The legislation will make prohibit confidentiality provisions in sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases.
California has been a hotbed of activity when it comes to sexual harassment and abuse cases, as it was in many respects the starting point of the #MeToo movement. As a result, the California legislature has introduced a bill, Senate Bill 820, designed to assist victims of sexual assault, harassment, and gender discrimination by prohibiting confidentiality provisions in settlements of these types of cases.
As a society, we are coming to grips with the reality that sexual assault and harassment remains a major problem, particularly in the workplace. One of the issues that often prevents real change from taking place is that when settlements do occur, they often contain confidentiality provisions that prohibit the alleged victim from disclosing anything about the case — which often allows the abuser to continue to harass or abuse additional victims. For example, in the Harvey Weinstein situation, the Weinstein Company is alleged to have settled at least eight cases involving sexual assault on his behalf. Due to confidentiality provisions, Weinstein was apparently able to continue his pattern of abuse against female employees, until one day, the “whispers” against him grew too loud, and the story hit the media at last.
SB 820 attempts to prevent this type of scenario from occurring by preventing confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements involving sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims. Under the proposed bill, confidentiality provisions that prevent the disclosure of factual information related to the claims in any lawsuit involving sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender discrimination, retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or gender discrimination or failure to prevent sexual harassment or gender discrimination would be prohibited. However, a limited non-disclosure provision would be permitted that would prevent the parties from disclosing the amount of the settlement. SB 820 has only been introduced and is not yet law.
While SB 820 would certainly make it easier for victims of sexual assault, harassment and gender discrimination to learn about this type of misconduct and criminal behavior in the workplace, it may also make it more difficult to settle cases. According to many California workplace harassment attorneys, one of the primary motivations for many employers in settling cases is to maintain confidentiality. Without that ability, it may lead to more litigation and fewer settlements. However, it could be tremendously helpful for victims, as it would be far easier to show a pattern of conduct when it comes to sexual harassment, abuse or gender discrimination. After all, if a particular employer has settlement multiple lawsuits for sexual harassment involving similar facts, then it will likely help an employee’s case if she or he has suffered similar harassment.
As experienced California workplace harassment attorneys, the lawyers of PLBSH are dedicated to staying abreast of the latest legislation that impacts your rights. SB 820 is one potential update to the law that could be an important way for victims of harassment, discrimination and assault to stand up for their rights.
If you have been subjected to workplace sexual harassment, assault, or gender discrimination, contact PLBSH today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our skilled California workplace harassment attorneys will work with you to put together the best possible case, and will stand by your side throughout the process.