The California legislature on Monday passed the “Silenced No More Act,” which would allow workers who have experienced any type of harassment or discrimination in the workplace to speak up even if they signed a non-disclosure agreement, effectively barring secret settlements.
Senate Bill 331, which gives workers the right to talk about abuse, harassment or discrimination cases, would also expand a ban on overly broad confidentiality and nondisparagement clauses.
State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, wrote the bill, which now goes to the governor and will take effect at the beginning of next year if he signs it.
“Workers in California deserve better than being forced into agreements that protect perpetrators and continue to harm survivors and others around them in the workplace,” Leyva said in a statement.
A previous bill by Leyva that was signed into law in 2018 gave workers the ability to talk about sexual harassment or discrimination. This amendment expands those rights to include speaking about other types of discrimination and harassment, including that related to race, disability or age.
The bill was co-sponsored by the California Employment Lawyers Association and Equal Rights Advocates, as well as Ifeoma Ozoma, a public policy manager who in 2020 accused Pinterest Inc.
of gender and racial discrimination.
“Coming forward about the discrimination and retaliation I faced at Pinterest felt like the closing of one chapter, and the work on this bill has been a new beginning,” Ozoma told MarketWatch. She said she hopes the governor will sign it in the next few weeks.
“Tens of millions of people will be silenced no more, and I can’t imagine a better way to have turned pain into progress,” Ozoma added.