Managers can not exclude anyone from the MBO if the reason for the exclusion in to discriminate against an employee based on his/her age, race, sex, national origin, religion, or disability. Given that NDAs were signed, it is possible that the NDAs could serve as a cover for such discrimination.
So, my opinion is that while excluding certain employees may legally be done based on rank, experience level, educational background, etc., it may have been improper to do it secretly as that secrecy could serve as a cover up for illegal discrimination.
You may want to consult a local employment law attorney on this to see if, first of all, the NDAs can be rendered illegal for the reasons stated above through what is known as a declaratory judgment action. Thereafter, once all the information is open as to who was offered the MBO and who was not, then a discrimination suit may follow.
Please Note: (1) Just Answer’s site disclaimers apply to all levels of service; (2) Most follow-up questions are answered with in the hour; however, if I am not signed on, please allow up to 24 hours; and (3) If we are done, please assign a feedback rating so Just Answer will compensate me for your question. Thank you for using Just Answer.