By 2022 Nondisclosure Agreements and Non-disparagement Agreements had become common tools in many Washington State employment settings. A Nondisclosure Agreement is a contract, usually between an employer and an employee. They typically require certain information to be kept secret.  A Non-disparagement Agreement prevents an employee from saying negative things about the employer. These types of agreements are often found in employment contracts, severance agreements, and settlements.

In June of 2022 Washington State passed the “Silenced No More Act,” which applies to all employers within the state. This new law limits the topics that can be included in both Nondisclosure and Non-disparagement Agreements. Provisions of these agreements that do not comply with the new law cannot be enforced. This law is effective retroactively, meaning this law applies to agreement signed prior to June of 2022. These agreements have also drawn scrutiny at the federal level.

The Silenced No More Act prohibits employers from entering into or enforcing any provision that prohibits the discussion or disclosure of work-related illegal conduct. Illegal conduct includes discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wage and hour violations. Illegal conduct also includes sexual assault and acts against a clear mandate of public policy occurring at the workplace or in connection with the workplace, such as an employer-sponsored holiday party. The law also prohibits retaliation, discrimination, and termination against an employee for discussing work related illegal conduct.

Despite the new restrictions, employers can still prohibit the disclosure of certain types of information. These include trade secrets, such as proprietary information or confidential information that does not involve illegal acts, including monetary terms of a settlement agreement.

An experienced employment attorney can analyze whether you are facing retaliation, discrimination or termination due to discussing work related illegal conduct or review any employment agreements you are asked to sign. Contact Cooney Law Offices today. We can help!