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California Nullifies Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) In Discrimination And Harassment Cases

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In October 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the Silenced No More Act, a law nullifying non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in discrimination and harassment cases. When the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, California workers who have been victims of workplace discrimination or harassment can speak up about their abuse despite signing an NDA with their employer.

If you have experienced discrimination or harassment at work, do not hesitate to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our Los Angeles discrimination & harassment attorneys at Obagi Law Group, P.C. Our attorneys will help you understand your legal rights and options and determine whether an NDA could prevent you from publicly discussing workplace harassment or discrimination.

Employers Use NDAs to Avoid Public Disclosures of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment

According to employment data, more than one-third of the workforce in the United States is bound by an NDA with their employer. One common use of NDAs by employers is to prevent their workers from disclosing the terms of secret settlements. For decades, employers offered settlements to victims of workplace harassment and discrimination to avoid public disclosures and protect their reputation.

However, with the passage of California Senate Bill 331             (the Silenced No More Act), employees will no longer be barred from discussing settlements or speaking up about harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

What is the Silenced No More Act?

The Silenced No More Act is an expansion of California’s STAND (Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures) Act that was enacted in 2018.

The Silenced No More Act amends Section 12964.5    of the California Government Code, which governs employees’ right to talk about harassment, discrimination, or abuse in the workplace. The act also expands the restrictions on confidentiality provisions concerning information related to workplace discrimination and harassment.

In expanding the protections granted by the STAND Act, the Silenced No More Act allows workers to speak freely about harassment and discrimination experienced at work.

While the primary purpose of NDAs is to protect a company’s sensitive information and keep confidentiality for a defined period of time, many employers use these agreements to keep their misconduct shielded from the public eye.

The goal of the Silenced No More Act is to ensure that employees cannot face legal consequences for speaking up about the harassment and discrimination they endured while working for their employer.

What Happens Now That Gavin Newsom Signed the Silenced No More Act?

Newsom’s signature on the Silenced No More Act marks the long-overdue death of NDAs in lawsuits and settlements in California arising from workplace harassment and discrimination.

Yet despite California’s battle against NDAs, many states still allow employers to use these agreements. Now, with the act going into effect in the beginning of 2022, other states may be likely to follow suit and enact similar laws prohibiting employers from using NDAs as a means of covering up harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

If you have become a victim of discrimination or harassment at work, it is in your best interests to contact an employment lawyer. Our Los Angeles harassment and discrimination lawyer at Obagi Law Group, P.C., will explain your rights and options and help you file a complaint or lawsuit. Call 424-284-2401 to schedule a case review.

Resource:

leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB331

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