President Donald Trump has famously used nondisclosure agreements to preemptively stifle potentially damaging stories that may come out about him from those people working in his immediate orbit. But now, according to BuzzFeed News, one of his 2016 campaign staffers has filed a class action arguing that everyone who signed an NDA during the the president’s 2016 campaign should be free to talk.
In a class action filed this week, Jessica Denson and her attorneys argue that the NDA:
Prohibits extraordinarily broad categories of communications and actions that would otherwise be protected by the Constitution and multiple federal, state and local laws and regulations in favor of an extraordinarily broad group of persons and entities, including the Campaign, President Trump and members of President Trump’s family and the companies they own or with which they are involved.
That, in and of itself, is what an NDA exists to do. However, Denson claims, this specific NDA that employees and volunteers of the Trump campaign were forced to sign should be invalidated because it is vague, overreaching, “lacks a legitimate purpose,” and perhaps most importantly:
Violates federal, state and local public policy by allowing any Trump Person to impose grievous financial penalties on individuals in retaliation for such individuals’ assertion of their statutory rights as employees.
On a crowdfunding site set up to help raise money for her class action case, Denson wrote that: “These illegal NDAs translate one-time engagement in the political process into a lifetime of allegiance to everything related to Trump, and punish victims and whistleblowers when they speak out.”
This is not Denson’s first time bringing a legal action against the Trump campaign. She previously sought $25 million in a workplace discrimination and harassment case against her former manager, Camilo Sandoval. According to BuzzFeed, she was subsequently forced to pay nearly $50,000 as a result.
“[Denson] was deeply disappointed by the way she was treated by the campaign,” her attorney, David Bowles, told BuzzFeed. “She’s been deeply disappointed by the way the Trump campaign has used the NDA against her and she fears that similar things are being done to other campaign workers. She wants to put it right.”
I have reached out to the Trump campaign for comment on Denson’s action, and will update this story if they respond.
Meanwhile, Bowles told BuzzFeed that Denson’s class action could potentially impact the thousands of staff, volunteers and contractors the Trump campaign forced to sign NDAs, leaving them free to share their experiences without fear of reprisal. I bet they’ve all got stories to tell.