The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 15 unanimously approved a bill that would invalidate nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) designed to keep employees from discussing instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The bill, known as the SPEAK Out Act (S.4524), is similar to laws passed in California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.
Many States Prohibit NDAs
Many employers require employees to sign NDAs and non-disparagement clauses during hiring, in severance agreements and in legal settlements. But employers need to be careful that specific language does not violate new or existing state laws. Maine, Oregon and Washington are the latest states to restrict how employers can use NDAs.
Protecting Trade Secrets
One of the most common situations in which companies use NDAs is when employees have access to confidential information, including trade secrets, proprietary processes, client lists, marketing strategies, and other valuable or sensitive information.
Companies should have robust policies prohibiting sexual and gender-based harassment, with clear examples regarding the type of conduct that is prohibited. Employer harassment policies should be reviewed with new employees as part of the on-boarding process, as well as periodically during employment.
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq.
Stuart J. Oberman is the founder and President of Oberman Law Firm. Mr. Oberman graduated from Urbana University and received his law degree from John Marshall Law School. Mr. Oberman has been practicing law for over 28 years, and before going into private practice, Mr. Oberman was in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 Company.
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