California’s New Law Limits Some Secret Workplace Agreements

A new California law prohibits secret regulations in most cases of harassment and discrimination, expanding a signature reform of the #MeToo movement that ensures workers can publicly call their bosses for bad behavior without fear of losing their wages or losing their pay. other advantages.

Companies don’t like their reputations to be tarnished in public, so they often require their employees to be quiet when dealing with harassment or discrimination cases by having them sign a non-disclosure agreement. Such deals have come under scrutiny during the #MeToo movement as a way to isolate victims and protect serial offenders from the consequences.

A 2018 law banned secret regulations in California for cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, or assault. Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a new law that bans these regulations for other types of discrimination cases, including those involving race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

Senator Connie Leyva, a Democrat from Chino who drafted the law, has dubbed it “Silenced No More Act”.

The California State Legislature and Governor Newsom have now spoken: Californian workers should absolutely be able to speak out – if they choose – when faced with any kind of harassment or discrimination on the job. workplace, “Leyva said in a statement Thursday. . “It is unacceptable that an employer wants or seeks to silence the voice of survivors who have been victims of racist, sexist, homophobic or other attacks at work.”

Other states, including Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Tennessee, also have laws prohibiting nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. But Leyva’s office said California is the first state to ban such nondisclosure agreements as part of severance pay when a worker leaves the company.

The law matters in California, home to some of the world’s largest and most influential tech companies. The legislation was inspired in part by two black women who accused Pinterest, the San Francisco-based social media company, of pay discrimination and retaliation.

The women, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, settled their complaints and left the company. But when they decided to speak publicly about their experiences, California law only protected them if they spoke about the gender discrimination part of their complaint, not racial discrimination.

The co-founder and CEO of Pinterest said he supports the law.

California law has a few exceptions. Companies would still be required to keep the names of employees secret and not divulge any information that could identify them, but only if the employee asks the companies to do so. The law says companies cannot force employees to be silent.

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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