Broadway Deal Over Rudin Shows Will Limit Nondisclosure Agreements

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Performers and stage managers will be released from the nondisclosure agreements they signed to work on four Broadway shows connected to the producer Scott Rudin under a settlement between the Broadway League and Actors’ Equity Association.

The union said that the two parties had agreed that, going forward, producers would no longer require actors or stage managers to sign such agreements unless approved by the union, which might sign off on them in limited circumstances to protect things such as intellectual property or financial information. The League declined to comment.

The settlement arises from a labor dispute that began last year, when Rudin, long one of the most powerful producers on Broadway, was facing accusations that he had behaved tyrannically toward a variety of people who worked with him, prompting an Equity stage manager to alert the union to the nondisclosure agreements required by some Rudin shows.

Last spring, the union asked Rudin to release employees from the nondisclosure agreements, and in January, the union filed a pair of unfair labor practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board regarding “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “West Side Story,” both of which were at the time produced by Rudin.

The union argued that nondisclosure agreements illegally restricted worker rights. Its complaints were initially filed against Rudin and his general manager; in recognition of the fact that Rudin is not currently actively producing on Broadway or in Hollywood, and last year resigned as a member of the Broadway League, the complaints were expanded to include the Broadway League, which is a trade association representing producers.

The union said it has since learned that nondisclosure agreements were being used by four recent Broadway productions, including not only “Mockingbird” and “West Side Story,” but also “The Iceman Cometh,” on which Rudin was a lead producer, and “The Lehman Trilogy,” on which Rudin was among the lead producers.

The union withdrew the National Labor Relations Board complaints earlier this month, after reaching a settlement agreement with the League. According to a copy of the settlement agreement, the League has agreed to release from confidentiality, nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements any actor or stage manager who signed such an agreement with the four recent productions. (The agreement does not affect workers in Rudin’s office, many of whom were required to sign detailed nondisclosure agreements as part of their employment contracts.)

The settlement comes at a time when nondisclosure agreements in many workplaces have come under increasing scrutiny.

“Exploitation feeds off of isolation,” said Andrea Hoeschen, the union’s general counsel. “There is no stronger tool for an abuser or a harasser, no matter the setting, than silence.”

It is not clear how frequently nondisclosure agreements are used on Broadway.

“We intend to tell our members broadly about this settlement, and if they are asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement, we are going to push back on those as violative of our members’ rights,” Hoeschen said.

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