Speak Out Act Restricts Employer Nondisclosure Agreements
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On November 16, 2022, Congress passed the Speak Out Act prohibiting employers from forcing victims of sexual harassment and assault to maintain confidentiality in response to alleged abuse. Effective against any claim filed once the President signs the bill, which is expected any day, employers will no longer be able to enforce any nondisclosure agreement or non-disparagement agreement entered into prior to any sexual harassment and assault dispute. The Act’s preamble indicates Congress’s intent for the bill to apply to current and former employees, applicants, and independent contractors.
Employers may still enter into confidentiality agreements with claimants upon settlement of assault or harassment claims. However, the bill specifically allows states to implement more restrictive requirements on post-dispute agreements, like those already existing in California and other states. Employers may also still protect trade secrets and proprietary information through nondisclosure agreements. In light of these imminent changes, employers should immediately review their nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements with legal counsel.
- Review the bill here.
- Review nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements with legal counsel.
- Review sexual harassment prevention programs to ensure ongoing compliance.
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