Does a new federal law apply to diocese lay review boards?

Here are a boatload of questions for you:

Last week, Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Speak Out Act.

According to PBS Newshour:

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed legislation curbing the use of confidentiality agreements that block victims of sexual harassment from speaking publicly about misconduct in the workplace.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden had acted on the bipartisan Speak Out Act, which bars the use of nondisclosure agreements that employees or contractors are required to sign, often as a condition of employment.

The new law, among the workplace changes pushed in the wake of the #MeToo movement, applies to any nondisclosure agreements, also known as NDAs, signed before a dispute has occurred. (emphasis mine)

Now, let’s look at the bylaws of the lay review board for the Diocese of Knoxville (specifically requirement g on page two):

Hmmm … an NDA? The diocese is a workplace, no? Sexual abuse of children and vulnerable people by clergy is sexual assault at the workplace of the clergy member, right?

And … what happens if a board member breaks the NDA? What kind of teeth does this document have?

Now, let’s not confuse confidentiality with an NDA. Tennessee is a state where EVERY CITIZEN is considered a mandatory reporter. Reporting abuse to law enforcement is not breaking confidentiality, it’s reporting a crime. But reporting to law enforcement evidence of criminal activity that is discussed in a review board meeting IS breaking an NDA.

So who’s side are the board members on? Once they sign that NDA, they are no longer on the side of victims of abuse.

And … Now, I think that little NDA is against the law. Certainly the spirit of the law.

That’s dirty pool, Bishop Stika.

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