Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Silenced No More Act into law Thursday, making California the first state in the country to prohibit non-disclosure agreements that bar employees from talking about instances of illegal harassment and discrimination. The bill, which was authored by state Sen. Connie Leyva, was inspired and co-sponsored by former Pinterest employee Ifeoma Ozoma.
"WE DID IT!" Ozoma tweeted Thursday night. "Words can't fully capture what this means but we named the bill Silenced No More so I'll say a bit. Abusing workers then forcing silence - under the threat of lost income and healthcare - is depraved. As of Jan 1, 40 MILLION people no longer have to stay silent."
Ozoma and her former Pinterest colleague Aerica Shimizu Banks spoke out about their own allegations of discrimination and retaliation at Pinterest last summer, shielded by a #MeToo-era law also introduced by Leyva, which prohibited NDAs that bar people from talking about gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The Silenced No More Act expands those protections to all forms of harassment.
The law will now govern some of tech's biggest companies — Apple, Google and Facebook among them. Those companies had mostly stayed quiet in the months leading up to the bill's passage. Large business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, actively lobbied against it before dropping their opposition following the amendment process. Pinterest and Expensify were two exceptions, coming out publicly in support of the bill before it passed.
The requirements will now apply to all agreements in California that begin on or after Jan. 1 of next year.
Earlier this week, Ozoma also debuted a handbook for tech whistleblowers like herself, telling Protocol, "This is not a 'how to.' You cannot tell anyone how to potentially ruin their lives [...] Preparedness is power. It doesn't mean that shit won't be terrible."