California Senate Bill 331, also known as the Silenced No More Act, takes effect on January 1, 2022. As noted on the California Legislative Information website, SB 331 forbids employers to include or enforce certain terms in employment contracts and severance agreements.
California employees who sign non-disclosure agreements that prohibit them from publicly discussing workplace discrimination may feel free to do so under the new 2022 law. An employer may violate the law by forcing them to remain silent.
Discrimination reporting under current laws
Employers cannot treat workers poorly based on age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Employees have a right to report the behavior. They also have a right to see the behavior corrected.
An employee may report discriminatory incidents by contacting a company’s HR department. This may include reporting racist, sexist or age-related remarks.
If, after reporting it, an employee still experiences harassment, his or her employer may have broken the law. Allowing misconduct to continue may reflect a labor law violation.
Wrongful terminations and severance agreements
If the harassment or discrimination continues, the workplace may become hostile. This may lead to an employee facing a potential wrongful termination.
An employer may request that a terminated worker sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of a severance package. An NDA may also become part of a settlement agreement. As reported by The Verge, California workers may nonetheless publicly discuss discrimination within a company beginning in 2022.
When the new law takes effect, employees may speak out regarding their mistreatment despite having signed a non-disclosure agreement. By speaking out publicly, whistleblowers may help reduce future incidents of on-the-job discrimination.