Senior politicians have warned that companies 'widespread use of non-disclosure agreements when settling discrimination cases with employees being employed to silence victims'.

NDAs are often used to cover up accusations of discrimination, with the result that all alleged victims' claims may never be investigated.

The Committee said in its report. "We are gravely concerned that the NDAs are being used to make a fatal accident.

"There are widespread examples of poor practice in the handling of harassment and discrimination complaints. We are concerned that we are using the NDAs to avoid investigating unlawful discrimination and harassment complaints and holding perpetrators to account. "

The committee has called "awareness-raising programs" for employers and employees about handling workplace grievances. Among other recommendations, it should be considered as necessary to investigate all complaints of discrimination and harassment.

To investigation by Financial News last year found that the number of women sexual discrimination cases against banks and other financial services companies was rising as gender pay gap figures were published and social media movements such as #MeToo gained prominence.

But more than 80% of cases are settled out of court, and non-disclosure agreements, under which the employee commits to the case.

A former compliance worker at a city company, who has settled a discrimination case with an employer and signed to NDA, told FN at the time: "We have huge cultural issues of shutting down women, and big business and asset managers. We always look at these stories individually. The trouble is, it's easy to take one out of one. Women are easy to silence if you slap on NDA on them. "

The committee said in its report: "We are deeply concerned that we are not sure who we are. This paint job can have a devastating effect on people's careers, self-esteem and personal life.

"Confidentiality, non-disparagement and similar clauses in settlement agreements need to be clear and specific about information that can and can not be shared."

A spokesman for the Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "It is unacceptable that NDAs have been used to harass or intimidate victims into silence. NDAs and confidentiality clauses for workers and put an end to the unethical use of these agreements.

"We want to publish our response to the consultation and the committee's report in due course."

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Tim Burke

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