Ex-Trump staffer files class action lawsuit to nullify non-disclosure agreement

Source: Karen Townsend

You’ve been duped, Trump supporters and a former Trump campaign staffer wants you to know it. Jessica Denson claims she was ignorant and foolishly signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when she was hired by the Trump campaign in 2016 without hesitation.

Her impulse to not question signing such a document was based on her belief that then-candidate Donald Trump was under attack from everyone and she was ready to stand up for him. Now she wants the NDA to be declared null and void.

Denson’s claim centers around the practice of using NDAs as a part of the hiring process. NDAs don’t prevent an employee from reporting illegal activities but Denson asserts that they are “too broad, too vague and can be used to retaliate against employees who complain of legitimate workplace grievances.”

Denson’s lawyers, David Bowles and Maury Josephson, estimated that in the Trump campaign alone, there were thousands of employees, contractors and volunteers who were forced to sign agreements that bound them to secrecy and prevented them from making any disparaging statements about Trump, his campaign or his family.

This action is the most sweeping challenge to Trump’s use of NDAs to date, Bowles and Josephson said in an interview with The Post, and it could have implications for other campaign workers and administration officials who signed the same or similar agreements.

“My client believes that the campaign has been using these NDAs as a bludgeon against workers who want to speak out and anybody who wants to make a comment that could be construed as critical of the president of the United States,” Bowles said.

In Ms. Denson’s claim, she wants to “redress workplace misconduct” and she originally filed a workplace discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the Trump campaign in 2017. She was hired by the Trump campaign in 2016 as a phone bank administrator working out of Trump Tower and then promoted to Hispanic engagement director. She claims she was bullied, harassed and sexually discriminated against. The Trump campaign responded.

After Denson sued, the Trump campaign responded with an arbitration action asserting Denson had “breached confidentiality and non-disparagement obligations” by “publishing certain confidential information and disparaging statements in connection with a lawsuit she filed against claimant,” according to court filings.

The campaign’s lawyer demanded Denson pay $1.5 million in damages and legal fees, and an arbitrator ruled that Denson had violated her NDA and ordered her to pay nearly $50,000.

Denson’s lawyers said the action was retaliatory and called it a “sham arbitration,” and Denson is challenging the arbitrator’s ruling in state and federal court.

Now she wants to invalidate the NDA. Haven’t we heard this story before with Donald Trump and NDAs? In previous stories, the women who wanted to invalidate NDAs were women with whom he had sexual relationships. Ms. Denson’s case in no way claims any personal relationship with Trump, but it makes me wonder why she’s putting herself out there now for the public to see. The other women were looking for a bigger paycheck now that Trump is president. They were looking for book or movie deals. Is this Ms. Denson’s plan? I watched her interview on CNN this morning. She is particularly angry, it seems, at Camilo Sandoval who hired her in the first place and works today as information chief for the Veterans Administration. Sandoval’s move to the VA set tongues wagging, as he was a known critic of the previous administrator David Shulkin.

The appointment was announced Wednesday morning on the eve of confirmation hearings for VA nominee Ronny Jackson. Sandoval, a former Air Force intelligence officer and American Express and Merrill Lynch employee, worked at Treasury following Trump’s election but was confined to a basement office after clashing with career staff, POLITICO reported last May.

Sandoval eventually moved to the VA last year, and was reported in numerous news accounts to have conspired to get Shulkin fired.

The story of Sandoval’s move to the VA was reported in April, 2018. Denson filed a lawsuit in November 2017 alleging her claims against Sandoval.

In November, Jessica Denson, a woman who worked in Hispanic voter outreach for the Trump campaign, filed a $25 million lawsuit in Manhattan charging that Sandoval slandered, harassed and sexually discriminated against her in violation of New York City’s human rights laws.

The suit alleges that after campaign CEO Steve Bannon promoted Denson in the summer of 2016, Sandoval threatened her, saying, “I hired you and I can fire you.” In the following months, she contends in the suit, he began a rumor campaign aimed at discrediting her, and the campaign failed to come to her defense.

The campaign “compounded a slander crusade executed by Sandoval” that included the claim she was responsible for an illegal leak of Trump’s taxes, “perpetuating a climate of fear and terror for the extent of her employment and beyond,” the suit says.

Ms. Denson’s bio on Twitter identifies her as an actress and a journalist. The class-action lawsuit goes a bit further in describing her background.

Claimant is a summa cum laude graduate of the George Washington University, an award-winning journalist, and a member of SAG-AFTRA with film and TV credits. Claimant is a registered Republican.

Trump is known for his use of NDAs when hiring employees and contractors. Trump campaign volunteers signed NDAs, too. He’s known for his litigious actions. Denson herself said she didn’t think twice about signing an NDA when she was hired by the Trump campaign. She’s 32 years old and an educated woman. Denson was a true believer in Trump and his candidacy yet now she says, in retrospect, NDAs allow abusers like Sandoval to “act with impunity”. She blames Sandoval for not receiving an opportunity to work in the Trump administration and being banned from Trump Tower. Mostly she blames Sandoval for being unable to handle the fact that she left his supervision and received a big promotion as Hispanic outreach director.