California governor Gavin Newsom signed Thursday night the Silenced No More Act. This historic piece of legislation was authored by state senator Connie Leyva, D-Chino. It should protect workers who voice their concerns about harassment or discrimination, even if they have signed a non-disclosure deal.
After being made aware of allegations of racism against Pinterest, Ifeoma Ozoma, a whistleblower for the company, began pushing for the bill to be passed last year. Although she knew that the Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures Act protected her in part, a Me Too-era law which banned NDAs in cases of sexual harassment, Ozoma soon discovered that the bill did not protect other forms.
This is changing. California workers will now be legally protected from discrimination based upon race, religion or sexual orientation. The changes can be viewed in detail here.
This law could have huge implications for the tech sector, which is known for having employees sign restrictive NDAs. It will protect California employees only, but Ozoma plans to expand the law to other areas of the United States.
The bill was sponsored by the California Employment Lawyers Association and Ozomas organization Earthseed. It will go into effect January 1, 2022.
After the Ozomas allegations, but months before the law's passage, Pinterest agreed to stop making employees sign NDAs that prevented them from sharing their personal experiences with Pinterest. Apple refused to include language in its employment agreements that would allow employees to discuss workplace harassment or discrimination. This was after Apple shareholders and activists pressured Apple.