In a proxy statement ahead of its annual shareholders’ meeting, Google stated that employees who have signed confidentiality agreements can still talk about assault, harassment, discrimination, or retaliation they experience at the workplace. The announcement marks Google’s clearest stance yet on its non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and is another victory for advocacy groups that have been working to eliminate workplace NDAs, which have become increasingly restrictive and prevalent over the past several years.
Google’s statement makes clear that employees are allowed to discuss working conditions and wages with each other, and that any employees who have signed settlement or severance agreements—even those containing NDAs—are still allowed to talk about any sexual assault, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation they experienced.
Though the statement did not constitute a concrete policy change, it offered an explicit promise that Google employees may now hold the company to, should they ever bring claims against the company.
The inclusion of language regarding the company’s concealment clause and NDA policies was prompted by a shareholder proposal that would have required Google to issue a public report studying the impact of NDAs on harassment and discrimination claims. Such a request came on the heels of states such as California and Washington passing “Silenced No More” laws, which have barred employers in each state from using NDAs to stop employees from publicly discussing harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other illegal workplace practices.
If you believe you have been subjected to illegal workplace practices and are being prevented from discussing your experience because of an agreement from your employer, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
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Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.