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New California law prevents secret sexual harassment settlements

A new piece of sexual harassment legislation has become law in California. The new measure prevents employers from requiring victims of sexual harassment to sign a nondisclosure agreement when they settle their cases. The measure will prevent numerous abuses that happen at workplaces throughout the state, and end up going unnoticed by the public eye as a result of secret settlements.

The new law, SB820, will prevent secret settlements in discrimination and assault cases, in addition to instances of sexual harassment, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure into law last Sunday.

This law is only the latest in a string of legal reforms that have resulted from the #MeToo anti-sexual assault and anti-sexual harassment movement. According to Sen. Connie Leyva, who penned the law, SB820’s ban on secret settlements will prevent victims from needing to stay quiet, something that has enabled serial sexual harassers to continue targeting victims after sweeping past instances under the rug with confidential settlements.

SB820 governs all areas of employment, including public and private workplaces — even the state Legislature. Previously, the California Legislature was known to require workers to enter into nondisclosure agreements when they settled employment-related lawsuits. Workers will benefit from SB820’s added protections beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

Sexual harassment continues to be an ugly reality for California workers. Nevertheless, with new legal reforms, those who sexually harass others at work — and employers who foster this behavior — will continue to face harsher and harsher consequences. If you’re currently enduring on-the-job sexual harassment or any kind of work-related discrimination, learn more about your legal rights and options now.

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