Speak Out Act

Hello, and welcome to LegalEase. Today’s topic is about The Speak Out Act.

What is the Speak Out Act? This is a new law that went into effect at the end of 2022 in response to the #MeToo movement. The statute says that employers cannot ask employees to sign blanket nondisclosure or non-disparagement agreements before any sexual harassment or sexual assault dispute even arises.

Let’s back up and discuss the agreements.

An NDA, non-disclosure agreement, is a confidentiality agreement that says do not talk about anything that happened here. A non-disparagement agreement is an agreement that says do not say anything negative about your experiences here.

Often, employees will sign employment agreements or even stock grant agreements that contain blanket non-disparagement or non-disclosure provisions that pertain to any aspect of the workplace experience. Congress has said employers cannot do this anymore, as it relates to sexual assault and sexual harassment.  These provisions can only pertain to sexual assault and sexual harassment after a claim has arisen and is being settled. In other words, employers cannot ask employees to sign these blanket provisions on the frontend of employment because, historically, when employees sign these provisions, they do not speak up about an assault or harassment that takes place in the workplace.

Congress passed the statute by an overwhelming majority.

What does this mean for employers? Employers must review employment agreements, stock grant agreements, and any other agreements that have confidentiality or non-disparagement provisions in them. Employers can potentially insert carve-out provisions for sexual assault or harassment.  

If you need help reviewing your agreements or making any revisions to them, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help you. Thank you for joining LegalEase.