Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson took her fight to the Massachusetts State House Monday, calling on lawmakers to end taxpayer-funded non-disclosure agreements.
Carlson, who was at the center of the Fox News sexual harassment scandal, said NDAs keep victims quiet and perpetuate predatory behavior. Carlson still can't share her own story due to the NDA she was forced to sign.
"Buying silence instead of stopping sexual harassment is immoral and unjust," Carlson said. "The silence is suffocating."
Carlson was in Massachusetts representing the group Lift Our Voices, which she helped create to highlight the need for equality in the workplace. Carlson's lawsuit which led to the downfall of Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes wasn't in Massachusetts.
State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) is sponsoring the Massachusetts bill that would ban the use of taxpayer-funded NDAs unless requested by the victim.
DiZoglio said she had to sign an NDA when she was the victim of sexual harassment while working as a legislative aide. She broke the agreement in 2018 in order to share her story with lawmakers.
At Monday’s press conference, she called out Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo for not acting on the legislation that she says allows bad behavior to continue.
"Victims would still be able to settle with their employer, but that employer — for example, the governor or the speaker of the House — would no longer be able to use our hard-earned tax dollars to legally muzzle their employees about abusive experiences," DiZoglio said.
Baker said his policy is to use a nondisclosure agreement only if a victim seeks one.
"We think that's an appropriate policy, and it's one that's endorsed by many women's organizations," Baker said.
Asked whether a similar policy should extend to private companies, Baker said, "that's our policy, so obviously we think that's a good idea."
DeLeo also said the decision about whether to seek a nondisclosure agreement should be in the hands of victims.
"Our rules now state that should a victim request that there be no nondisclosure, then that will be the will of the victim, and we will follow that will," he said.
DiZoglio's bill remains in committee. She is hopeful it will come up for a potential vote before the Feb. 5 deadline.