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A Hamilton County court worker gains release from contract

A former Hamilton County Clerk of Courts employee who sued her boss over a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) prohibiting her from speaking about him can now say whatever she likes. Her former boss voluntarily released her from the agreement.

The election in 2017 marked the first time in nearly 100 years since a Democrat had held the role of Clerk of Courts. One of the first steps the new Clerk took upon assuming that position was to fire at least a dozen longtime employees of the office, something that he'd told media outlets would do away with the "make work" jobs that were a drain on the county's resources.

In the weeks before the NDA was withdrawn, the former employee argued that her NDA should be thrown out because the Clerk himself had violated it. She said that he did so by making disparaging comments regarding her work ethics and political biases. She also argued that making her sign the NDA violated her constitutional rights.

The Clerk's attorney had petitioned the judge presiding over the matter to allow the case to be heard by a federal judge instead of a Hamiton County Common Pleas one. These maneuvers happened to fall around the same time that the election was heating up though, so the decision stalled in the courts for a while.

The federal judge initially presiding over the case ultimately decided that it was more appropriate for a common pleas court judge back to Hamilton County to hear the matter. A new hearing on the matter was then scheduled for late November. The new judge is expected to decide whether the agreement is indeed legally binding. That may set a precedent in similar cases involving several of the woman's former co-workers.

Many employers ask their prospective employees to sign NDAs before being hired for a job. Others require their workers to sign them upon leaving their role with an organization in an effort to protect the reputation of the company or others involved. Any such agreement generally must be accompanied by an in-kind reward for them doing so in order to be valid. In this case, for example, the woman received more than $4,000 for signing the NDA.

Legal claims involving your employment rights can be complicated. A Cincinnati employment law attorney can advise you on how to avoid a lawsuit.

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