California makes it harder for companies to hide harassment, discrimination

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Silenced No More Act on Thursday.

Andrew Morse Former executive editor
Andrew Morse is a veteran reporter and editor. Before joining CNET, he worked at The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg, among other publications.
Andrew Morse

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law expanding worker protections when disclosing harassment and discrimination.

Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday night signed legislation that protects workers who speak out about workplace harassment or discrimination even if their companies have nondisclosure agreements in place.

The legislation, known as the "Silenced No More Act," was introduced by state Sen. Connie Leyva. The legislation expands existing law that prohibits companies from preventing disclosure of sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex to include other forms of workplace harassment and discrimination.

The bill was inspired by Ifeoma Ozoma, who along with Aerica Shimizu Banks, spoke out about racial discrimination last summer when they worked at Pinterest. The two Black women said they experienced racial discrimination and faced retaliation after raising concerns about unfair pay in the workplace, actions that conflicted with the image-sharing company's public vow to help its Black workers.

Both Leyva and Ozoma took to Twitter to celebrate the signing of the law. Leyva tweeted, "Workers should always be able to speak out -- if they so wish -- when they are a victim of any type of harassment or discrimination in the workplace." 

Ozoma tweeted, "WE DID IT!"

Nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements are commonly used by Big Tech companies, as well as by companies in other industries, to prevent workers from discussing details of their operations.