Washington state became the second in the nation to pass the Silenced No More Act on Thursday. The bill bars employers in the state from using NDAs to prevent workers from talking about instances of illegal harassment and discrimination, retaliation, sexual assault and wage violations.
The bill, a version of which was signed into law in California last year, was championed in Washington by former Apple employee Cher Scarlett and former Googler Chelsey Glasson. It now heads to governor Jay Inslee to sign.
“This bill is about empowering workers. It is about giving workers a voice,” State Rep. Liz Berry, who introduced the House version of the bill, said in a statement. “Despite the progress we’ve made in recent years, too many workers are still forced to sign NDAs and settlement agreements that silence them. This bill will allow all survivors of inappropriate or illegal workplace misconduct to share their experiences if they choose to do so.”
The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Karen Keiser. Both versions draw upon the original Silenced No More Act in California, which was inspired by two former Pinterest employees, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks. In the summer of 2020, Ozoma and Banks came forward with allegations of discrimination and retaliation at Pinterest.
In Washington, both Glasson and Scarlett testified about their own experiences working at Google and Apple, respectively. When Scarlett became a leader in the #AppleToo worker movement, she said in her testimony, "Some managers and other departments claimed I was violating the NDA we signed and reported me to global security for leaking confidential information."
Glasson, who settled a long-running pregnancy discrimination suit with Google last month, said she was "intimidated by Google's NDA" as she began considering speaking out. "Congrats and thank you to @KarenKeiser1, @LizBerryWA, and so many others," Glasson tweeted Thursday night.
While the bill only applies to employers in Washington state, that covers a number of the tech industry's biggest players, including two of the country's tech giants: Microsoft and Amazon.
“This is a simple bill that can go a long way toward eradicating misconduct in the workplace that is too often swept under the rug,” Keiser said in a statement. “The way to protect employees from harassment and discrimination is to enable them to speak up.”