Non-disclosure agreements are standard company-employee contracts. However, employers must understand their limits in seeking protection.
A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) helps protect proprietary information from competitors in your field. Although that’s not changing, it will soon be illegal to require secrecy in matters of workplace harassment and discrimination.
You probably already know employers must provide equal treatment and opportunities for workers. Employees deserve fairness despite their actual or perceived age, race, sexual orientation, religion and marital status, among other protected classes. Come 2022, employees will experience fewer restraints in terms of addressing their concerns.
Employers no longer have to stay quiet
The 2018 “Stand Against Non-Disclosures Act” went into effect in response to the “Me Too” movement. This legislative effort removed barriers for individuals who experienced sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse on the job and wanted to take action.
Until now, what was missing was a workers’ right to disclose information about additional forms of illegal treatment. California Senate Bill 331, the “Silenced No More Act,” provides room for workers to speak up about other forms of harassing or discriminating activity in the workplace.
Beginning January 1, 2022, employers cannot force workers to keep reports of the following legal violations confidential:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual harassment
- Workplace discrimination or harassment
- Retaliation for reporting discrimination or harassment
Employers cannot require silence as a condition of employment or pay increase. Related severance packages are also protected.
Hope for the future?
These changes may not seem monumental to ethical employers who provide a safe workplace with equitable opportunities. But if you agree that too many corporations mistreat employees, you probably support workers’ rights.
The concept of allowing fairness and transparency across the board shouldn’t threaten employers. Instead, it may afford employees in protected classes greater ability to make things right.