Retroactively nullifying Utahn’s NDAs could impact a lawsuit against Tim Ballard. But first this bill has to pass.

“I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that NDAs cause in allowing evil to thrive in silence,” Michael Borys told Utah’s House Judiciary Committee.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, speaks during a conference committee at the Capitol on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024.

Employees who allege they were sexually harassed or assaulted would not be bound by confidentiality agreements at work under a bill passed unanimously by the Utah House on Wednesday.

And a tweak to HB55 before it passed Wednesday would make the provisions apply retroactively to Jan. 1, 2023, meaning any nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreement entered into since that time would not be enforceable as it pertains to sexual assault or harassment claims.

“We need to do better as a people,” said Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, “but most importantly with passage of this bill I hope more and more victims will have the power to stand up and inform others so ultimately we will have fewer instances of sexual harassment in the state of Utah.”

Birkeland, the sponsor of the bill, said in an informal survey of the 21 female House members, 16 said they had been sexually assaulted or harassed in the workplace.

Federal law already nullifies nondisclosure agreements signed before sexual abuse happens, but not those signed as part of a settlement agreement between the employer and the victim.

Among those who testified in favor of the bill at the House committee hearing was Michael Borys, the husband of Celeste Borys. She has accused Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad and the inspiration for the movie “Sound of Freedom,” of repeatedly sexually assaulting her while she was his executive assistant.

OUR has countersued the Boryses, alleging she is violating a nondisclosure agreement she signed when she began working at OUR and a nondisparagement clause she agreed to on July 7, 2023, when she left the organization.

“I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that NDAs cause in allowing evil to thrive in silence,” Michael Borys told the House Judiciary Committee last week.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.