non-disclosure agreement

Speak Out Act: How It Affects Employee Non-Disclosure Agreements

By Thomas McKinney

In the past, NDAs have been used as a tool to maintain company secrets and prevent employees from speaking up about workplace wrongdoings. The Speak Out Act, however, aims to provide employees with a voice, ensuring their ability to report illegal activities or misconduct without the fear of retribution, including cases that involve sexual harassment. In this blog, we’ll discuss the intricacies of the Speak Out Act and how it dramatically changes the landscape of Employee Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). 

How Does the Speak Out Act Affect Non-Disclosure Agreements?

The Speak Out Act represents a significant shift in the legal landscape regarding employee non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Designed to promote transparency, protect workers, and create an environment where whistleblowers can come forward without fear of retaliation, this legislative initiative has far-reaching implications for both employers and employees. Some of the Act’s core provisions include:

  • Limited enforceability: Under the Act, NDAs are no longer enforceable when it comes to preventing employees from disclosing information related to workplace misconduct, illegal activities, or violations of the law. This change empowers employees to report wrongdoing without the threat of litigation.
  • Disclosure rights: Employees are explicitly granted the right to report workplace misconduct to government agencies, law enforcement, and other relevant authorities. This provision protects whistleblowers from any NDA-related consequences and ensures that their voices are heard.
  • Mandatory reporting: Employers are required to include a notice in their NDAs, informing employees of their rights under the Speak Out Act. Failure to include this notice can result in legal penalties for the employer.

The Speak Out Act forces employers to rethink their approach to confidentiality agreements and their use in employment contracts. The Act has greatly empowered employees as they can now speak out about workplace misconduct without fearing the legal repercussions that previously came with violating an NDA. This change fosters a culture of accountability and transparency within organizations.

While NDAs may remain enforceable for protecting sensitive company information and trade secrets, the Act has greatly curtailed their use in matters related to workplace misconduct. Employers can no longer rely on these agreements to silence employees when it comes to unethical or illegal actions within the organization. An employer’s failure to have their NDAs comply with the new legal requirements outlined in the Speak Out Act can lead to fines and other legal repercussions. Companies should update their employment contracts and policies promptly.

Lastly, the Speak Out Act has led to a broader cultural shift within organizations, emphasizing the importance of ethical behavior, diversity, and inclusivity. Employers are encouraged to prioritize addressing workplace misconduct and fostering a safe working environment.

New Jersey Employment Law Attorneys

As laws change, the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees can greatly shift. Learning about these laws and understanding their implications can be critical to protecting your legal rights. For more information on what the Speak Out Act means for New Jersey employers and employees, talk to the team at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.