Employment Discrimination And Non-Disclosure Agreements In The Age Of The Silenced No More Act
For as long as seemingly anyone currently in the workforce can remember, employers have been using non-disclosure agreements to, among other aims, enable them to perpetuate practices of widespread discrimination based on protected characteristics and harassment and mistreatment of employees. Employees who find a) their requests for accommodations to which they are entitled denied, b) their accomplishments disparaged, and c) their smallest mistakes scrutinized, often feel like they are the only ones at the workplace who have experienced this mistreatment. The truth is, of course, that there were many others before them in a similar position.
Typically, these predecessors have not said anything about the situation except perhaps to their closest family members and friends as non-disclosure agreements prevented them from doing so. The Silenced No More Act, which went into effect in California on Jan. 1, 2022, strictly limits the types of information that employers can require former employees to keep confidential about situations involving discrimination based on protected characteristics. To find out more about employment contracts and non-disclosure agreements in the Age of the Silenced No More Act, contact the Los Angeles employment discrimination and harassment lawyers at Obagi Law Group, P.C.
Protected Characteristics and Employment Discrimination
Employment discrimination is illegal at the federal and state levels. An employer’s adverse actions against an employee — such as harassment, denial of raises and promotions, and termination of employment — are considered discrimination if the employer’s stated or unstated reason for doing them is a protected characteristic of the employee. Protected characteristics include race, religion, ethnic background, sex, gender, familial status, age, and disability. The STAND Act of 2018 prohibited employers from enforcing non-disclosure agreements to stop workers from speaking out about sex and gender discrimination in the workplace, including sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. The wording of the law left a gaping loophole, however: What happens if the discrimination is based on more than one protected characteristic, such as race and gender or disability and gender? This is where the Silenced No More Act comes in.
What Can Still Be Confidential Under the Silenced No More Act?
Now, employers in California are no longer allowed to enforce non-disclosure agreements that require current and former employees to stay silent about racial discrimination, age discrimination, or any other kind of discrimination. Additionally, these employers will not be able to include these kinds of non-disclosure provisions in new employment contracts. In the case of discrimination lawsuit settlements or severance agreements, employers may still require the former employee to keep the settlement amount confidential, but not the fact that the employer paid a settlement.
Speak With a Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawyer
California law offers robust protections against gender discrimination and other forms of employment discrimination, but still workplace harassment and discrimination persist. A Los Angeles employment discrimination and harassment lawyer can help you exercise your right to a discrimination-free workplace. Contact Obagi Law Group, P.C. for a consultation.