Advocating For California Employee Rights

California bans most secret discrimination and harassment agreements

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2021 | Discrimination

What started as a few courageous women coming forward on social media to report ill-treatment by their male counterparts were the initial stepping stones of the #MeToo movement a few years ago. 

This movement shed light on just how many men and women have endured unwanted sexual advances and acts from others. Many of the victims felt like they had to keep silent to protect their safety, other relationships, careers and livelihoods. The exposure to these victims’ plights made it clear that something had to be done to ensure they no longer kept quiet due to fears of the more powerful elite taking retribution against them. 

These concerns led to the passing of an initial law here in California in 2018 that barred closed-doors settlements in discrimination, assault or harassment cases. This latest legislation expounds upon those signature reforms. The earlier legislation afforded workers the right to highlight their bosses’ poor behavior publicly without being made to fear that they’d lose pay and other fringe benefits. 

The updated law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom now also bans similar types of secretive settlements in sexual orientation, religion, race and gender discrimination cases. The latest law is commonly known as the “Silenced No More Act.” 

What are the origins of this new law?

This latest bill’s proponents cite two Black female employees of the California-based company Pinterest as motivating them to see that this bill got signed off on. When they spoke about the wage discrimination and retaliation that they’d received at the tech company, existing laws only protected them in discussing their gender discrimination, not any racially motivated ill-treatment. The new law now will ensure that workers don’t feel silenced when they want to report any discrimination or harassment they have endured, no matter what their protected class.

There are some exceptions to this new law

As with many regulations and laws, there are some exceptions to the Silenced No More Act. Companies must keep any identifying information about employees private unless the worker agrees to its public disclosure. 

Understanding newly instituted laws and applying them to your situation can prove challenging. You’ll want to learn more about this law and whether it applies to you before deciding what course of action to take in your case.