In an article published on June 24, 2022 in Vancouver Business Journal, Peter Hicks breaks down Washington State’s new Silenced No More Act. The sweeping legislation went into effect on June 9, 2022 and should serve as a wakeup call for companies to review their existing NDAs and employment agreements, and realize their employees have vastly more freedom to talk publicly about everything from harassment, sexual assault and retaliation to discrimination, safety claims, and wage and hour violations.
All employment agreements are fair game under the law, including independent contractor agreements, agreements to pay compensation in exchange for release of a legal claim, or any other agreement between an employer and an employee. The only caveats are that employers can continue to use non-disclosure agreements to safeguard confidential information, proprietary information and trade secrets.
So, what should Washington companies do in the coming days and weeks?
- Review existing employer-employee agreements to make sure nothing violates the new law. Revise them when necessary.
- Be cautious when entering into new employment agreements. Specifically, don’t tell your new employees that as a condition of their employment they cannot discuss the topics above.
- Other than seeking restrictions on disclosure of settlement or severance amounts, do not ask for non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses in severance and settlement agreements. Don’t even suggest it.
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