All Employers with WA Employees
June 9, 2022
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Washington’s “Silenced No More Act” is creating significant changes for employers with nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements. Following similar prohibitions in California, SB 1795 prohibits employers from entering into agreements that prevent current, former, or prospective employees or independent contractors, who are Washington residents, from disclosing or discussing conduct that occurs at the workplace, work-related events, between employees, or between an employer and an employee, whether on or off the employment premises, that the individual reasonably believes to be illegal discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, sexual assault, or against public policy. Such agreements are void and unenforceable.
Employers are also prohibited from requesting or requiring employees and independent contractors to enter into agreements with these types of provisions. Further, employers cannot attempt to enforce any agreement provisions prohibited by the bill, whether through a lawsuit, threat of force, or any other attempt to influence an individual to comply. Similarly, employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees or independent contractors who disclose or discuss such conduct. Notably, employers are still permitted to protect trade secrets, proprietary information, or confidential information that do not involve illegal acts.
The protections also extend to settlement agreements with employees or independent contractors. Specifically, settlement agreements cannot prevent individuals from disclosing or discussing the existence of a settlement agreement or suspected illegal activity that is involved in resolving a legal claim. However, settlement amounts may still remain confidential.
In addition to prohibiting employers from entering into new agreements containing barred provisions, the bill retroactively invalidates barred provisions that are in existing agreements as of the date the bill goes into effect, except for such provisions in preexisting settlement agreements. Violations of the new rules subject employers to $10,000 in damages plus attorneys’ fees and costs.
- Have nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements updated by legal counsel for compliance.
- Have appropriate personnel trained on the new requirements.
- Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.
Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.
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