Tiger Woods’ ex-girlfriend said in an August 2017 email that her only concern about signing a nondisclosure agreement was losing her job at Woods’ restaurant if the relationship ended and to be in control of their future in the business.
“I have no problem with what is in the document because I will not release it or use anything I know to harm him or the children,” Erica Herman wrote. in the email to the CFO of Tiger Woods Ventures.
“But with my whole life in his hands now, I would like to have some control over my future in the business. If something happens in 5-10 years, I don’t want to be heartbroken in my 40s and unemployed. .
The email exchange was among the documents filed Sunday evening ahead of Tuesday’s hearing. Woods’ attorneys are expected to ask Circuit Judge Elizabeth Metzger to halt Herman’s lawsuit against their billionaire client. They say the former couple’s NDA requires all disputes to be settled privately by an arbitrator, not in court.
Herman has filed a lawsuit against Woods, accusing golf’s biggest star of starting their sexual relationship when she was his employee and threatening to fire her if she doesn’t sign the NDA she now wants rescinded.
His email to Chris Hubman, the Woods company’s chief financial officer, was sent on August 7, 2017.
“In my mind, your employment at The Woods Jupiter and your personal relationship with TW are two separate things,” Hubman replied the next day. “I don’t think the end of one automatically impacts the other…although I admit it could be complicated. It will most likely depend on the terms, condition or reason for the end of the relationship.
“The NDA does not address the terms of your employment with TWJ…only the dissemination and control of information that comes to your knowledge as a result of your personal and professional relationship with TW.”
She signed the NDA on August 9, 2017, documents show.
Herman, in court papers filed Friday night, also accused Woods of causing his lawyer to break up with her at an airport last October after he falsely told her they were going on a weekend trip to the Bahamas. She says the attorney then kicked her out of Woods’ $54 million mansion north of Palm Beach and tried to get her to sign another NDA, which she refused.
Herman, who ran Woods’ Palm Beach County restaurant before and during the early years of their romantic relationship, argues that the NDA is unenforceable under a new federal law that says such contracts can be voided if sexual abuse or harassment. Her attorney, Benjamin Hodas, argues that Woods’ alleged threat to fire her if she didn’t sign the contract was harassment.
“A boss imposing different working conditions on his employee because of their sexual relationship is sexual harassment,” Hodas said.
Herman, 39, is separately suing the trust that owns Woods’ mansion for $30 million, saying he verbally promised in 2017 that she could live there for at least 11 years, but evicted her after five years.
Woods’ attorney, JB Murray, denies Woods, 47, ever sexually assaulted or harassed Herman, calling his accusations in court papers “completely baseless”.
Neither Hodas nor Murray responded to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
It is unclear whether Woods will attend Tuesday’s hearing. He underwent ankle surgery last month following his car accident in February 2021 in Los Angeles and will likely miss the rest of the major championships this year.
In Herman’s lawsuit against Woods, she wants Judge Metzger to strike down the NDA or at least give her some guidance on what she can say publicly. For example, can she discuss events that happened before they agreed or after they broke up? What about the information she learned about Woods from others? She also argues that the contract only covers her working relationship with Woods, not their personal affairs.
In her unlawful eviction lawsuit against the trust, she bases her $30 million claim on the cost of renting a property like Woods’ mansion during the six years of residency she was allegedly denied.
When Hodas filed a lawsuit against Herman against the trust in October, he checked a box on a standardized form that the case did not involve sexual abuse. In the trial of Herman’s March against Woods, Hodas ticked the box saying the case involves abuse. Hodas did not explain the apparent discrepancy.
Herman says in his court papers that their romantic relationship began in 2015 and that in late 2016 she moved into Woods’ nearly 30,000 square foot (2,800 square meter) mansion in the upscale community of Hobe Sound.
Woods, in his court papers, says their romantic relationship began in 2017, shortly before she moved in with him in August — around the time the NDA was signed. In March 2017, Woods placed the mansion in the Jupiter Island Irrevocable Homestead Trust, an entity he created that has only himself and his two children as beneficiaries.
Forbes magazine estimates Woods’ net worth at $1.1 billion.
They were first seen publicly as a couple at the Presidents Cup in late September 2017, and Herman had been a constant presence at larger tournaments and events, such as the 2019 Masters. She was also with Woods at the White House in 2019 when then-President Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Herman says Woods pressured her to quit her job managing his restaurant in 2020, saying he wanted her to spend more time caring for him and his children.
In another email, Herman wrote on Feb. 17, 2020, that she had spoken with Woods and “we realized it was best for me to step back from the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.”
“Our lives evolved and after 4 years I realized that I was scattered and didn’t have the time or inclination to dedicate myself to the restaurant,” Herman wrote to Hubman.
When Woods’ attorneys returned her belongings, they kept $40,000 in cash, “making libelous and defamatory allegations” about how she obtained it, she alleges.
Woods and his estranged wife, Elin Nordegren, divorced in 2010, about nine months after he was caught up in a series of extramarital affairs that cost him high-profile sponsors and tarnished an image that had been largely spotless.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.
This version fixes the fact that Woods was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019, not 2018.