BY: Tad T. Roumayah | IN: Employment Law
The Speak Out Act (SOA) is a federal law that took effect in late 2022, giving workers more rights when employers seek to enforce nondisclosure agreements in certain situations. Specifically, the act protects employees subjected to sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace by prohibiting employers from using nondisclosure clauses to stifle them.
The SOA seeks to protect victims of sexual harassment and assault by prohibiting enforcement of pre-dispute nondisclosure or non-disparagement clauses. To illustrate what this means, we’ll look more closely at the parameters around this legislation.
The SOA applies exclusively to pre-dispute non-disparagement and nondisclosure agreements that may come up in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment or abuse. It is important to note that “dispute” can refer to various scenarios—from a full legal battle to consulting with an administrative agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or even sending a demand letter from an attorney after facing workplace misconduct.
In some instances, two parties will reach an agreement about an assault or harassment incident before engaging in formal legal proceedings—such as when one party agrees not to disclose certain information in exchange for compensation from another party. In other situations, an employee who has initiated a lawsuit or arbitration against their employer for on-the-job sexual harassment could resolve the same dispute by a settlement, including a nondisclosure provision that would bar them from discussing their case. Under the SOA, the employee would be bound by the settlement’s nondisclosure agreement the parties entered into that agreement after the legal dispute began.
The Speak Out Act provides you with legal protection to hold those responsible for your suffering and warn others about workplace dangers. If you’ve found yourself in this unfortunate situation, contact a Sommers Schwartz workplace sexual harassment attorney today to confidentially discuss your case and learn how we can help.
View all posts byTad T. Roumayah
Tad Roumayah focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, representing employees who have encountered discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower protection claims, wage and hour violations and other employment issues and disputes.