There are two main ways of dealing with problems such as workplace harassment and discrimination. The first and best is for the employer to investigate and take action to ensure it never happens again. The second is for the employer to brush it under the carpet and carry on as if nothing happened.
Unsurprisingly, covering issues up does nothing to solve them. In many cases, it allows them to continue because the people carrying out the inappropriate actions take away the message that:
- The employer does not care
- No-one else will ever find out
- There are no consequences
As obvious as it seems that covering things up is a poor choice, that is precisely what many employers have done for years. Among the worst offenders were some of the large California-based tech companies. Numerous examples have come to light after employees took great personal risks to break the terms of the non-disclosure agreements they were forced to sign.
Why did employees sign these documents?
Some considered they had little choice but to sign if they wanted a payout and if they ever wanted to work in the industry again.
In October 2021, California’s Governor Newsom signed the Silenced No More Act. It forbids employers from making workers sign documents that prevent them from speaking up about the discrimination or harassment they suffered.
Despite the new law, there will still be employers who either do not know about it or choose to ignore it. If your employer tries to silence you from speaking about your experience, seek legal help to understand your options.