California already had some of the strictest anti-discrimination and sexual harassment laws in the nation. A new law that went into effect this year makes them even more powerful.
Under a law that went into effect in 2019, California limits the state’s ability to use confidentiality clauses in relation to sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. Under a law that went into effect January 1, 2022, those limitations have been expanded to include all claims of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
The new law, Senate Bill No. 331, known as the Silenced No More Act, simplifies things for the employee. If they have experienced any harassment or discrimination, they will be able to speak freely about their experience without being afraid of negative consequences. Before this expansion, employers could prohibit employees from disclosing certain facts based on a nondisclosure agreement.
The employee’s rights
The amendment also includes revisions to non-disparagement clauses. The non-disparagement clause prohibited the employee from speaking negatively about the business, its products and/or services, and its people. Under the new law, the employer is no longer allowed to request that the employee sign a non-disparagement agreement. Now, the employee is allowed to speak freely about actions of the business that they believe are illegal.
The amendment dictates that if the employee signed a non-disparagement clause, it must be clearly stated by the employer that the employee still has the right to discuss or reveal information about illegal actions that are occurring in the workplace, including harassment and discrimination of any type.
Protecting your rights as an employee
If you have experienced a dispute in the workplace, it may be sensible for you to consult a lawyer who has expertise in employment law. It is possible that you are not fully aware of your rights as an employee and expert counsel can help to enlighten you and can guide you through the entire process so that your rights are protected and so that you are treated fairly and justly by your employer.