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  • Voltaire Staff

OpenAI spikes non-disparagement clause from exit paperwork

OpenAI has announced it will no longer enforce non-disparagement agreements and will eliminate related language from its exit paperwork.

The decision on Thursday came in the wake of reports about departing employees facing a dilemma, which meant either forfeiting their ability to speak critically about the company or risk losing their vested equity.

A non-disparagement agreement is a contract in which one party agrees not to speak negatively or make disparaging remarks about another party, typically a company or individual. They typically outline specific terms and conditions regarding what constitutes disparagement and the consequences for violating the agreement.

The non-disparagement agreement included in OpenAI's exit contracts forbids former employees from criticising the company for the rest of their lives, with even acknowledging the existence of the NDA being a violation. 

If a departing employee declines to sign the document or violates it, they risk losing all vested equity earned during their tenure, which could be worth millions of dollars. 

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman expressed regret over the existence of this provision, stating that he was "embarrassed" and unaware of its inclusion. He assured that OpenAI would promptly revise its documentation to reflect this new stance.

The company notified former employees that "[r]egardless of whether [they] executed the agreement... OpenAI has not canceled, and will not cancel, any vested units," according to Bloomberg.

It released them from the agreement altogether, "unless the nondisparagement provision was mutual."

Now, concerns have arisen regarding the fate of vested equity for former employees who declined to sign upon departure.

One former employee reported substantial losses, equating to multiple times their family's net worth. Whether this change will result in restitution, remains uncertain.

"We are sorry for the distress this has caused great people who have worked hard for us," Chief Strategy Officer Jason Kwon said in a statement. "We have been working to fix this as quickly as possible. We will work even harder to be better."

Image Courtesy: Unsplash


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