State Sen. Connie Leyva, who was behind California legislation banning non-disclosure agreements in cases of workplace sexual assault and harassment, is now hoping to prevent workers from having to sign such settlements in all cases of discrimination and abuse.
The proposed legislation seeks to build on an existing California law known as the STAND Act. That law, passed in 2018 at the height of the #MeToo movement, bans settlement agreements that prevent workers from speaking up about cases of workplace sexual harassment and abuse.
Advocates have argued that such non-disclosure agreements protect perpetrators from accountability and perpetuate further harassment by preventing allegations from coming to light.
“NDAs are inherently harmful because they prevent workers from speaking out against abuses in the workplace,” said Jessica Stender, senior counsel for workplace justice and public policy at Equal Rights Advocates, in a statement.
The Silenced No More Act would allow workers to also come forward about other claims of discrimination or bias, such as those that involve race or sexual orientation. It also intended to protect workers from having to sign such confidentiality agreements as conditions of their severance packages.
“This bill is critically important to ensure that workers never have to sign away their ability to speak out about harassment or discrimination as a condition of their employment or to settle a claim,” Mariko Yoshihara, legislative counsel and policy director for the California Employment Lawyers Association, said in a statement.
It was inspired by two former Pinterest employees
SB 331 is intended to address that discrepancy, its sponsors say.
“My experience facing workplace discrimination, then publically demanding accountability, speaks to the importance of this legislation for all Californians,” Ifeoma Ozoma, one of the two former Pinterest employees, said in a statement. “I’m proud to support this bill and the intersectional protections it would bring to tens of millions of workers.”