Laura Watanabe and Kimberly Pallen comment on the impact of the pandemic on employees in the art space


Employment Partner, Laura Watanabe, and Special Counsel, Kimberly Pallen were featured in the article, ‘You’re Fired! Arts Workers Face Legal Woes,’ which was published by The Art Newspaper. The article provides advice for employees in the art space who may have lost their job during the pandemic and discusses the key considerations involving non-compete clauses, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and unfair dismissal. 

Laura Watanabe highlighted the practice of non-disclosure agreements at work stating: “It’s very typical to get an employee to sign an NDA agreement on the back end to say they cannot disclose trade secrets or take legal action… if the employer is concerned about violation.” She recommends that an employee should always be compensated for signing these agreements, which is why employees should never be pressured into signing anything before seeking legal advice.

Kimberly Pallen was quoted stating “Confidentiality restrictions are popular in California, where non-compete clauses (which prevent an employee working for a competitor for a period of time after leaving) are banned and the law is relatively employee-friendly”. She explained that the “intense competition” between galleries is the basis for most employment conflicts stating “The art world is notoriously opaque… these galleries will do anything they can to protect their clients’ information.”

Regarding junior staff feeling pressure to agree to a contract, Watanabe was quoted saying: “There’s not a level playing field between the employer and employee, particularly in the pandemic. Junior staff don’t have the leverage to negotiate these terms to be more balanced – they’re often not fair. And that’s a problem.”

For those that subscribe to The Art Newspaper, the full article can be read here. Please note a subscription is required.

Category: Article