California’s bill would expand protections for workers to speak out about harassment or discrimination

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A proposed amendment to a California law would allow people who have experienced discrimination in their workplace to talk about it if they choose, even if they sign a nondisclosure agreement. Ifeoma Ozoma, a public policy manager who accused Pinterest Inc. PINS, -4.50% of racial and gender discrimination, went public with her story last year even though she had signed an NDA. He was able to do so thanks to a California law, SB 820, which grew out of the “Me Too” movement and allows those who experienced sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace to speak out regardless of whether they had an NDA.

Now Ozoma is working with state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, on the bill, which would also cover racial and other discrimination. “I am not just a woman, I am a black woman,” Ozoma told MarketWatch. “Only part of my identity is protected [under the existing law]… My experience as a black woman is part of what inspired me to drive change for everyone and not just myself. “The” No More Silent Act, “or SB 331, would also expand the prohibition of confidentiality clauses and not disparagement too broad to cover workers who have to sign such clauses, Leyva’s office said Monday. “It is unacceptable for any employer to try to silence a worker because he was the victim of any kind of harassment or discrimination, whether based on race. , sexual orientation, religion, age, or any other characteristic, ”Leyva said in a statement..“ SB 331 will allow survivors to speak up, if they choose, so they can hold perpetrators accountable and hopefully prevent abusers from continue to torment and abuse other workers. “This push in California is part of a growing effort across the state and nation to provide more protection for workers. An end to forced arbitration for workers, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, will be reintroduced in Congress on Thursday after being approved by the House last year. Ozoma said ending mandatory arbitration and giving workers the right to speak out about abuse, discrimination or harassment they experience in the workplace go hand in hand. “You need that first bit: there is no forced arbitration,” he said. “Once you remove that barrier, you still need [the other] remote. “Tanuja Gupta, a Google employee who is among those working to get the FAIR Act passed, agreed.” The person next to you may be going through the same thing and you wouldn’t know it, “Gupta said. “You can’t understand discrimination or systemic harassment without comparing notes.” Tech industry groups and the California Chamber of Commerce opposed SB 820, but Ozoma says it’s a different time. Most of Opponents have since voiced support for racial justice. Back then, “not everyone had said ‘Black lives matter,'” Ozoma said. “Now we’re looking for them to back it up with action.” For tech companies in particular, which have seen some high-profile cases of race-related controversies recently, NDAs are quite common. Ozoma, who has also worked at Google and Facebook, said he had to sign the deals there. Since then s, Google has ended mandatory arbitration for its employees.) See: ‘There’s a diversity issue right now’: Employees at the center of racial controversies in tech companies speak out on The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents hundreds of tech companies and others The Chamber of Commerce The state has not returned a request for comment. SB 331 is sponsored by the California Association of Labor Lawyers and Equal Rights Advocates. “We simply cannot address structures and systems of racism and other forms of discrimination in the workplace if workers are silenced,” Mariko Yoshihara, legislative advisor and policy director for the California Employment Lawyers Association, told MarketWatch. . “This was one of the best lessons from the #MeToo movement: When people speak out, they can come together and make a difference.”