A confidentiality agreement or NOA is a legal contract between two parties, such as the employer and the worker, which prohibits the exchange of information considered confidential or proprietary. Hush money payments, such as payments to Joe Macktal for his cooperation, are coercive and illegal agreements to silence whistleblowers who may be in emotional and financial distress because they are trying to report wrongdoing in their business or organization. Following the success of the Macktal case, transaction agreements must be approved by the government to protect an informant`s right to come forward and safely report evidence of fraud, waste or abuse. This was the first enforcement action taken by the SEC against a company because of the application of excessively restrictive confidentiality agreements preventing complaints and disclosure of informants. In some cases, KBR asked witnesses to sign confidentiality agreements that warned employees that they could expect discipline or dismissal if they were discussing cases outside KBR`s legal team without prior authorization. The SEC then found that such a language was contrary to Rule 21F-17 of the Dodd-Frank Act. Restrictive confidentiality agreements are blatant attempts to censor employees and limit the detection of corporate misconduct. Many are also illegal. Under federal laws and regulations, restrictive confidentiality agreements are prohibited in government contracts and in state-funded transactions. As a result of this case, other money cases were successfully brought before the courts of the fourth, fifth and ninth districts. In these cases, whistleblowers who misbehaviour were dismissed, downgraded or deported and, after filing a complaint with the Ministry of Labour for unlawful reprisals, transaction agreements were entered into against whistleblowers who illegally restrict protected communications.
The courts found that such „hush money” agreements were contrary to the protection of whistleblowers. Removing the NOA from the elements that deprive victims of their voices and redefining the conditions for what it should be used for promotes better values and more thoughtful and professional behaviour in the workplace.