Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Hundreds of former staffers of Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign can officially air their grievances about their time on the campaign trail without fear of retaliation after a federal judge issued an order this week officially voiding terms of their non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements.
Thursday’s order from U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in the Southern District of New York formalizes a settlement with the campaign that was tentatively struck in January and then largely approved in June.
The ruling was a long time coming for Jessica Denson, a former Hispanic outreach director for Trump’s 2016 campaign. She first launched the class-action claim in 2019, but that lawsuit itself only came after she went it alone in 2018 and sued to escape her NDA.
Denson alleged the terms were overly restrictive and meant to silence her as well as retaliate against her for her raising a sexual harassment claim against a campaign supervisor in 2017.
In the class-action lawsuit, staffers argued the non-disclosure agreements encroached on “broad categories of communications and actions” that would have otherwise been protected constitutional activities. Specifically, the contracts barred staffers from speaking up even in the event of workplace misconduct.
Via YouTube screengrab/MeidasTouch.
Anything deemed confidential by the campaign was off limits too, but what “confidential” meant was ill-defined, according to Denson. It could mean discussing anything related to the “personal and business affairs of Trump or his family members” and not just while in the campaign’s employ but effectively in perpetuity.
“We just achieved a huge victory for free speech in the face of a wannabe authoritarian who threatens American democracy to this day,” Denson said in a statement through attorneys Joe Slaughter of Ballard Spahr, David Bowles of Bowles and Johnson and John Langford, counsel for the advocacy group Protect Democracy.
Trump’s 2024 campaign could not be reached for comment on Friday by Law&Crime, but attorneys have argued the case was “moot” in 2022 when staffers or contractors were told they were released from the agreements, Forbes reported.
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