lawmakers vote to limit confidential settlements

September 6, 2021

When a company settles a complaint made by its employees, the agreement usually includes a clause that prohibits employees from disparaging the company or talking publicly about what happened.

These agreements have been criticized in the #MeToo movement because they protected public figures and companies from responsibility in cases of sexual harassment.

In 2018, California sanctioned a law that restricts the use of these nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, or assault.

The Democratic-led California legislature voted on August 30 to expand the law to include other types of harassment and discrimination, including claims based on race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The bill has now been submitted to Governor Gavin Newson, who must decide whether to sign it into law.

Connie Leyva, a Democrat from Chino and the author of the bill, stated that no employee should be silent for talking about his experience of harassment or discrimination in the workplace. For a long time, these secret agreements and settlements have reinforced a culture of secrecy that hinders accountability, respect, and justice.

According to Levya’s office, if the bill is signed into law, California will become the first state to ban companies from using nondisclosure agreements regarding unlawful behaviour as a part of severance packages when an employee leaves the company.

The California bill would not prohibit non-disclosure agreements in all cases. They will still be allowed to keep the employee’s name confidential and prevent the release of any detailed information that can identify them-but only if the employee requests it. The company cannot ask employees to remain silent.

The bill is partly a basis of a case involving two former black employees of the California company Pinterest. Women Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks filed complaints about salary discrimination and retaliation.

After settling the complaint with the company, they decided to talk about their experience publicly. Despite that, Ozoma’s attorney described to her that she could only speak about the gender discrimination part of her complaint as it became all included by California law. As she signed a non-disclosure agreement, she could not discuss her claims of racial discrimination. If Leva’s bill becomes law, this situation will change.

Workplace Discrimination Lawyers California

California has enacted several laws to protect the rights of employees and protect them from any form of discrimination. Discrimination in the workplace occurs in different ways. Sometimes this is just deliberate harassment of employees. Make them continue to suffer from racist or sexist remarks.

Or make inappropriate jokes about race, gender, or nationality. In some cases, discrimination is not obvious. Due to race, gender, nationality, and other reasons take disciplinary action or give negative performance evaluation, ignoring employee promotion or salary increase.

Our Khashan law firm has always represented victims of discrimination in the workplace. We fully understand that discrimination in the workplace is traumatic for employees. Our team of experienced lawyers helps victims find effective and efficient solutions.

If you or your family become a victim of discrimination in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact us at (951) 461-2387 for a free, confidential consultation.