STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
HOUSE SPEAKER ROBERT DELEO used two different figures this week in describing the number of non-disclosure agreements signed by departing House employees during his tenure, and an explanation for that discrepancy has now emerged.
DeLeo’s office said Thursday that “approximately 33” people who were terminated or left in a manner other than voluntary resignation “were offered a small severance package in exchange for executing a written agreement.”
On Friday, DeLeo said, “If you come right down to it, there’s about 18 of them that really could be looked at, over the 10 years that I’ve been there, two a year maybe.”
According to DeLeo’s office, the remaining 15 of the 33 staffers signed agreements when they left as part of a reduction in the workforce in 2009 after the economic downturn. The workforce reduction, along with 13 salary reductions, were projected at the time to produce an aggregate savings of $1.2 million.
The use of nondisclosure agreements in the House came to light after Methuen Rep. Diana DiZoglio disclosed on the House floor Thursday that in 2011, she signed an agreement including nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses after discredited rumors about inappropriate behavior prompted her boss — former Republican Rep. Paul Adams — to fire her.
DiZoglio said she worried NDAs could be used to silence critics or cover up misbehavior, and that the officials “responsible for requiring these NDAs in the past have been very careful in choosing not to document in the language of these agreements why certain employees have had to sign them.”
DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, has served as speaker since January 2009.
The House currently employs 480 people, according to DeLeo’s office, and more than 860 employees have left since 2010. Approximately 150 had their employment terminated or left in a way other than voluntarily resigning, and the 33 who signed the agreements were among that group.
The agreements are a “formalized process for providing terminated employees with a modest severance benefit,” and none were signed to settle complaints of sexual harassment, DeLeo’s office said.
“To put this all in context, exclusive of the layoffs, on average the House executed 2.25 employment related agreements per year over the 8-year period from 1/1/10 through 12/31/17. During this same 8-year period, more than 860 employees concluded their employment with the House,” according to DeLeo’s office.