UPEI asked outgoing employee to waive right to make human rights complaint in NDA
MLA Lynne Lund says agreement an 'overrreach,' wouldn't be allowed under new legislation
The University of Prince Edward Island asked at least one outgoing employee to give up their right to file a complaint with the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission.
CBC News obtained a draft copy of a non-disclosure agreement issued by the university to a former staff member.
The agreement stipulates that the person could not file a complaint under the province's Human Rights Act, the Employment Standards Act or any other successor legislation. The employee did not sign the agreement.
Human resource experts say these types of clauses are common to NDAs.
But Green MLA Lynne Lund said the agreement shows how often NDAs can overreach and prevent employees from speaking out about serious cases of abuse.
"I think it is disappointing to see that sort of language in non-disclosure agreements, but it's entirely consistent with what we have been seeing in non-disclosure agreements in all kinds of organizations," Lund said.
"The idea that you could ever force someone to not make a human rights complaint is obviously an overreach and entirely inappropriate. I think that's really the problem with the language we were seeing in NDAs is that they are so far-reaching they infringe upon people's rights."
Lund said NDAs like this will no longer be permitted once new legislation, which she sponsored, comes into effect in May.
That legislation is set to make P.E.I. the first province in the country to limit the use of NDAs in cases of harassment or discrimination.
CBC News confirmed this fall that NDAs were used in settlement agreements involving UPEI and two former employees who'd filed sexual harassment complaints against former president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz in 2013.
Those complaints were filled with the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission.
On Monday, UPEI said a Toronto lawyer hired to investigate new allegations against Abd-El-Aziz has also been asked to review workplace policies to deal with harassment, and make recommendations on the university's use of NDAs.
Other clauses in the UPEI agreement would prevent the employee from disclosing terms of severance and the NDA itself except to immediate family and legal and financial advisors, unless it's required by law.
The employees would also not be able to make any negative or unfavourable comments toward the university, its services, governors or staff orally or via any other medium at the risk of losing any severance money.