California May Pass Two Laws That Limit Workplace Nondisclosure Agreements For Sexual Harassment

California is close to passing two bills that will prohibit employers from implementing nondisclosure agreements to cover up sexual harassment, the Washington Post reported.

The bills, inspired by the #MeToo movement were passed by California legislators Wednesday and Thursday and will require the signature of Governor Jerry Brown before becoming law.

On Wednesday, legislators passed a bill that proposed nondisclosure agreements and arbitration cannot be mandatory by contract. Companies will still be allowed to use arbitration or mediation by a third party, but will not be allowed to hold this process as a term of employment. This prevents a new employee from being forced to sign over all rights to speak on harassment, Buzzfeed News reported Friday.

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a Democratic assemblywoman, introduced the bill.

"We know that workers across California constantly experience sexual harassment, wage theft, and other abuses in the workplace and that these abuses are often never brought to justice because employees are forced into secret and one-sided mandatory arbitration agreements at the time they are hired," she said.

Former Fox News host and Miss America Board Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson is a vocal supporter of the bill. In 2016, Carlson spoke of her firing from Fox News by CEO Roger Ailes, which she alleged took place after she rejected sexual advances from him. She noted the bill can allow others in similar positions to speak openly about harassment.

"I believe that forced arbitration is not only unjust, it is un-American," said Carlson on May 9. "I hope legislators from both sides of the aisle will get to Gov. Brown's office and ask him to sign this bill."

The second bill, passed on Thursday, aims to ban private settlements that ask for a victim's silence. With the bill's passing, nondisclosure agreements would be allowed at the request of a victim.

California Senator Connie Leyva spoke of the bill's benefits. "It would be a truly historic win for victims that will no longer have to suffer at the hands of perpetrators that have hidden behind the curtain of secrecy created by these settlements," she said.

Washington has a similar law in place, which makes sure new employees don't have to sign a nondisclosure agreement focused on sexual harassment and assault, according to the National Law Review. The law went into effect on June 7.

A similar bill was shared in Congress in July. New Jersey and New York are considering similar laws.