On October 7th, 2021, Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 331 into law, to be enforced beginning January 1st, 2022. SB 331, or the “Silenced No More” Act, forbids Non-Disclosure Agreements and Non-Disparagement clauses that prevent employees from speaking out regarding any type of workplace harassment, discrimination, or abuse they may have encountered.
According to an article in the Washington Post, Non-Disclosure Agreements are particularly common at large tech companies, which have historically lacked in diversity and inclusion efforts. The article states that this bill was formed out of the experiences of Ifeoma Ozoma, a former public policy manager at Pinterest who experienced both racism and pay discrimination while working for the company. Due to her binding Non-Disclosure Agreement, she ran into many legal roadblocks in her attempts to go public about her experiences.
As the writer of the legislation, California state Sen. Connie M. Leyva states:
[The legislation] will empower survivors to speak out – if they so wish – so they can hold perpetrators accountable and hopefully prevent abusers from continuing to torment and abuse other workers
CA NDA law expands on previous protections against workplace harassment
According to the Washington Post, the Silenced No More Act comes on the heels of a former piece of legislation passed in 2018, also written by Leyva: The Stand Together Against Non-Disclosure, or STAND Act. This law specifically banned Non-Disclosure Agreements from preventing California employees from speaking out about sexual harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination based on sex. SB 331 expands on this law to safeguard all protected classes’ right to speak out about harassment or discrimination experienced in the workplace.
California Judge rules that Google’s Non-Disclosure Agreements are illegal
According to the Washington Post, and in another major win for California labor advocates, a judge ruled on January 13th 2022 that a Google employee’s NDA, which effectively forbade him from speaking about his job to any future potential employers, amounted to a noncompete clause. Noncompete clauses are also illegal in California.
These recent wins for California employees will substantially lower the risk of retaliation against employees who have been experiencing harassment of any kind, and will allow employees to speak openly about their experiences.