For far too long, workers have had to make a difficult choice when it comes to witnessing, or being the victim of, illegal acts at work. The choice was either do what’s right and expose the wrongdoing or keep their mouths shut and continue to earn a paycheck. A new law seeks to give employees a better option: do what’s right without sacrificing their careers or their safety. That law is Senate Bill 331 (SB 331), which is an updated version of SB 820 (also known as the “Silenced No More Act”).
The “Silenced No More Act” was originally enacted in 2019. It prevents employers from forcibly including confidentiality clauses and non-disclosure agreements (NDA) in settlement and severance agreements offered to victims of sexual harassment at work. Basically, the original version of the “Silenced No More Act” (SB 820) enabled victims to reach a severance or settlement agreement with their current or former employer without being forced to remain silent about the sexual harassment that led to the agreement.
No longer were workplace harassment victims who accepted a severance package or reached a settlement agreement required to stay silent as the company that enabled their abuse swept what happened to them under the rug. Instead, they could hold their abusers accountable in every way legally available, including:
- In the court of public opinion
- In the court of law
The “Silenced No More Act” is clearly a groundbreaking and necessary law. However, it’s not perfect, which is why SB 331 was enacted.
Why Was the “Silenced No More Act” Changed?
SB 331 is designed to make the “Silenced No More Act” an even stronger and more effective piece of legislation. SB 331, which went into effect January 1, 2022, amends SB 820. SB 820 only provided protections for victims of workplace harassment if the harassment a person experienced was based on sexual advances. SB 331 provides protections for those who experience workplace discrimination and harassment that is not sexual in nature. This means that not only does the “Silenced No More Act” provide protections for victims of sexual harassment, but now it also:
- Provides protection against workplace retaliation.
- Protects survivors of other forms of discrimination and harassment (such as religious, pregnancy, race, gender, and age discrimination and harassment).
- Protects whistleblowers.
How the “Silenced No More Act” Protects Whistleblowers
As previously mentioned, the new version of the “Silenced No More Act” protects whistleblowers. It does this by outlawing the forced inclusion of non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses in settlement and severance agreements related to on-the-job discrimination or harassment of any type. For example, let’s say an employee agrees to a severance or settlement package after experiencing workplace discrimination due to their race. In the past, that employee might not be able to expose their former employer’s racially insensitive culture or policies, because they were forced to sign an NDA as part of their settlement or severance agreement. However, now that same employee could speak out about their former employer’s culture without fear of violating an NDA or the terms of their settlement or severance agreement.
Whistleblower Claim? Wrongful Termination? Severance Negotiation? Contact Us Today!
Protections such as the “Silenced No More Act” are great if you know when and how to use them. The last thing you want is to have protections available to you and not know it or to count on having protections available to you in a situation where those type of protections don’t apply. That’s where an experienced employment law attorney can help. Employment lawyers help whistleblowers, victims of wrongful termination, people involved in severance negotiations, and others avoid legal pitfalls and reach satisfactory outcomes to their situations every day.
At Polaris Law Group, our legal team focuses exclusively on employment law matters. Our employment law attorney Bill Marder has been helping employees in California fight back against unfair treatment for more than 25 years. During that time, Attorney Marder has put his clients and what’s best for them first, which his case results prove.
Polaris Law Group offers free consultations. For more information, give us a call at (888) 796-4010 or fill out our online contact form today.