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Trump campaign staffer files class action to void the NDAs they had to sign

by Emma Ockerman
Feb 20 2019, 9:22pm

A class action suit filed by a Trump 2016 campaign worker aims to invalidate all the nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements staffers were made to sign before joining the campaign.

The former staffer, Jessica Denson, argues the campaign’s widespread practice of utilizing NDA agreements kept staffers from criticizing the president, his family members, or discussing any information that could be “in any way detrimental” to his family or campaign. But the NDAs also kept staffers from filing lawsuits claiming discrimination or harassment, Denson’s attorneys claim, adding that thousands of workers for the campaign signed such agreements. Moreover, the lawyers say the agreements are unenforceable and vague.

“NDAs violate 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,” Denson’s lawyers said in the complaint, filed Wednesday.

Denson worked as a phone bank administrator in summer 2016 and for a short time after as the campaign’s Hispanic outreach director. After Trump was elected that November, she sued the campaign in the New York County Supreme Court, alleging she had faced sexual discrimination and harassment in the course of her work.

The campaign said the November 2016 lawsuit, seeking $25 million in damages, violated her NDA and it took her to arbitration the next month, according to Wednesday’s complaint. Denson’s attorneys argued the NDA was vague by allowing Trump to determine what was confidential across an unlimited span of time, and sued to invalidate the agreement in March.


The Trump campaign has already sued Sam Nunberg, a former campaign consultant, and Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former campaign aide and White House official, for allegedly breaching their NDAs. The outcome of Newman’s arbitration case is unclear, and the campaign reached a confidential settlement with Nunberg, according to BuzzFeed News.

Meanwhile, Cliff Sims, a former Trump staffer who wrote a book called "Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House," sued the president this month to seek an injunction against his nondisclosure agreements, according to CNN. Trump noted the existence of the NDA in a January tweet that was critical of Sims’ book.

Cover: In this Nov. 4, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa. Trump is scheduled to go on trial this month in a class-action lawsuit against him and his now-defunct Trump University, potentially taking the witness stand weeks before his inauguration as president of the United States. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the Indiana-born jurist who was accused of bias by Trump during the campaign for his Mexican heritage, will hold a hearing Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, on jury instructions and what evidence to allow at trial. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)