Harvey Weinstein's Former Assistant's Mission to Ban NDAs Explained

A former personal assistant to disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein is on a mission to get NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) banned.

Zelda Perkins was prevented from speaking out about her former boss' sexual offences and has launched a campaign to end them so that others won't be in the same situation.

Perkins, 48, worked for Weinstein in London in the late '90s and signed an NDA in 1998 after she claimed he tried to rape one of her colleagues. She left that job shortly afterwards and broke the NDA in 2017.

"I think one of the real problems with non-disclosure agreements is that people don't understand—one, their pervasive nature in employment areas but also in all areas and the enormous ripple effect they have on peoples' lives after signing them," Perkins said during an appearance on Good Morning Britain on Monday.

As Harvey Weinstein faces more charges in an LA court, his former assistant Zelda Perkins is spearheading a campaign to change the law which silences employees with NDAs.

She says NDAs don't allow people to 'own their own trauma and move on with their lives'. pic.twitter.com/ljP2bFtLtn

— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 20, 2021

Weinstein was arrested in New York in May 2018 and was charged with "rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women."

The allegations sparked the #MeToo movement and Weinstein was found guilty of two of five felonies in February 2020 and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

The disgraced movie mogul now faces 11 sexual assault charges in Los Angeles.

Perkins and Julie Macfarlane co-founded the Can't Buy My Silence campaign, where they seek to end the misuse of NDAs.

Speaking on GMB on Monday, Perkins explained: "Lawyers and HR departments think they're offering a panacea to people who get into unpleasant situations, but actually what these agreements do is take peoples' trauma—they can't own their own trauma, they can't talk about what happened in the past and they can't move on with their lives."

She continued: "Since I broke my agreement four years ago, the Me Too movement started, nothing has changed in terms of regulation around these NDAs—in many ways it's become worse—it appears they're going even more underground and even more strict and complicated for victims who don't really understand the situation."

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court, on February 10, 2020 in New York City. - Since testimony began on January 22,2020 six women have taken the stand to say they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein. All of the allegations against the former Hollywood titan are at least six years old, while one of them dates back three decades.Weinstein, 67, faces life imprisonment if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges related to ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

Perkins said she was just 24 when she signed the NDA after working for Weinstein and said she was told by lawyers that she had "no power in this situation and going to court would ruin our lives, our family's lives etc."

She added: "The real reason we signed that agreement was because in our eyes it was the only weapon we were given to try and stop Weinstein's behavior and the agreement worked both ways—our silence was in return for his behavior being stopped."

Zelda Perkins
Zelda Perkins attends the Women and Hollywood 10th Anniversary Awards at The May Fair Hotel on November 27, 2017 in London, England. Dave Benett/Getty Images

Perkins said that most people don't realize the power disparity that is involved when they sign an NDA.

"However, this is something a lot of people who sign NDAs don't realize at the time—the power disparity is so enormous, whether you're a worker in McDonald's or you're working in a high profile environment as I was, the person in power is the only person protected by that agreement and Weinstein did not uphold his part in that agreement—my colleague and I upheld our parts. If he had, I don't believe we'd be where we are today," she said.