Federal Court Rules a Class Action Can Now Proceed Against Trump Presidential Campaign’s Use of Illegal Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

March 31, 2022 – Today, a federal court ruled that a class action seeking to invalidate the Trump campaign’s non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) will move forward. The ruling builds on the significant victory Lead Plaintiff Jessica Denson won last year, when the court ruled that the Trump campaign’s NDA was invalid and unenforceable as to Ms. Denson.

Reacting to the decision, Ms. Denson said: “The Trump campaign met their match with a woman who they thought they could easily threaten into silence. I never gave up, and now their scheme to silence hundreds of former workers is facing serious justice because of the stand I’ve taken.”

“Today was a significant victory on the road to justice for Jessica Denson and other campaign workers trapped in silence beneath illegal NDAs designed to silence legitimate speech,” said David Bowles of Bowles & Johnson PLLC. “We look forward to ensuring the ruling we achieved for Jessica applies to everyone,” said Joe Slaughter, an attorney at Ballard Spahr LLP.

The Trump campaign has routinely attempted to enforce its illegal NDAs to stop former campaign workers like Ms. Denson from speaking on matters of public concern, including expressing their views on the former President’s time in office. The Trump campaign also used its NDA to retaliate against Ms. Denson for filing harassment and discrimination claims against the campaign.

As the Court held today, “there is substantial evidence that the Campaign will seek to enforce the non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions against putative class members other than Denson.” The Trump campaign had sought to block plaintiffs from obtaining class discovery and subsequently moving for class certification. The Court rejected those arguments, and its decision allows the plaintiffs to move forward with discovery and to seek class certification.

NDAs like those used by the Trump campaign violate the free speech rights of those who sign them. “Cutting off the public’s access to important information about candidates for office and public officials undermines our ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials,’” said John Langford, lead counsel and counsel at Protect Democracy.

For more information about our effort to overturn illegal NDAs by the Trump campaign, visit: https://protectdemocracy.org/project/campaign-ndas/