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Non-Disclosure Agreements for Talent in California

By Lydia Kautsky · Wed, Apr 17, 2024 4:54 PM

A legal battle between a television production company and a reality TV star is currently waging in California. In November 2023, the production company Delirium initiated a private arbitration action against Love Is Blind contestant Renee Poche for violating her non-disclosure agreement by publicly discussing experiences she had while filming the popular reality TV series.1 A non-disclosure agreement is a contract where a party agrees to not publicly share confidential information they learn from another party in the course of doing business together. The outcome of the legal proceedings summarized herein could affect non-disclosure agreements in California.

In Love Is Blind, contestants have one-on-one conversations with other contestants with a wall separating them, and get engaged without ever seeing their new partner. Couples then move in together, meet each other’s friends and family, plan a wedding, and decide to get married (or not) after just four weeks. Poche appeared on the fifth season of the popular reality TV series, where she got engaged to Carter Wall. Despite participating in the filming, Poche and Wall were barely featured on the aired episodes of Season 5 of Love Is Blind. After the season was released on Netflix, Poche disclosed in interviews, discussed on social media, and otherwise publicly spoke about her experience: she felt Wall was abusive on and off camera, she was forced to continue to spend time with Wall despite voicing her fears to Delirium, and she felt trapped in an unsafe situation by the production company.2

In response to Poche’s public discussions of her experience while filming Love is Blind, Delirium started private arbitration proceedings against Poche, claiming she violated the non-disclosure agreement she signed before being cast on the show.3 Delirium is seeking four million dollars in damages from Poche for four separate violations of her non-disclosure agreement.4

To counter the arbitration proceeding, Poche sued Delirium in Los Angeles Superior Court, requesting a preliminary injunction on the arbitration proceedings, and seeking to nullify her non-disclosure agreement, claiming it unlawfully restricts her from speaking on unsafe and unlawful workplace conditions.5 Delirium responded with a motion to compel arbitration.6

California law places certain restrictions on the scope of non-disclosure agreements. Notably, non-disclosure agreements may not restrict an employee from disclosing unlawful acts in the workplace7 (such as discrimination, harassment, or retaliation).8 While non-disclosure agreements can protect trade secrets, proprietary information, or other confidential information, they can only do so to the extent such information is unrelated to unlawful acts in the workplace.9 Any non-disclosure agreement that violates this law or is otherwise overbroad or vague regarding what information is subject to non-disclosure is unenforceable.10 At a minimum, businesses should ensure that any non-disclosure agreements they currently use in California allow individuals to disclose unlawful acts in the workplace.

On March 22, 2024, a judge stayed Poche’s lawsuit pending the outcome of the arbitration and granted Delirium’s motion to compel arbitration, since Poche’s non-disclosure agreement contains “clear and unmistakable” language delegating disputes to be resolved in arbitration.11 Arbitration proceedings are not available to the public; as a result, there will be less readily available information on the development of this dispute. Nevertheless, if the arbitration is resolved in favor of Poche, this could have a significant effect on the hiring process for talent throughout the entertainment industry, including gaming, content creation, and esports. Rather than talent signing generic, broad non-disclosure agreements, businesses may need to be more mindful of the scope of their non-disclosure agreements.

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