Workplace diversity and equality update
Sign up for myFT Daily Digest and be the first to learn about diversity and equality in the workplace.
Legislators in Ireland and California are trying to prevent victims of workplace abuse from being stifled by the controversial contract terms exposed by the #MeToo movement. Supporters say this will have a particularly strong impact on the technology industry.
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic teamed up with activists including Zelda Perkins, a former assistant to the notorious filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, to draft amendments to the employment law To help victims of harassment and discrimination.
They hope that these efforts will put pressure on global technology companies, which are known for their widespread use of so-called non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and have substantial operations in Dublin and Silicon Valley.
The #MeToo movement started in 2017 and triggered a global outcry against the widespread use of non-disclosure agreements by employers.
“Employers need to be responsible for their workplace and what happens,” Perkins said. “We are not saying that you will never have a confidentiality agreement, but that you cannot have a legally based agreement to cover up harmful behavior or behavior that may harm a third party in the future.”
Perkins, who Broke her confidentiality agreement Expose allegations of sexual harassment with Miramax Film Studio and help draft Amendment The Irish Employment Equality Act, which will prevent confidentiality agreements from being used to cover up discrimination based on the nine protected features of the Irish Equality Act.
The private membership bill, which entered the critical third phase last month, was enacted by independent senator Lynn Ruane, who said she was forced to take action after she became more worried about confidentiality agreements signed by friends . The bill received cross-party support and was not opposed by the government. Activists say that if it wins the full support of the Senate, it is likely to pass when it enters Dáil Eireann (House of Commons).
At the same time, in the United States, former Pinterest executive Ifeoma Ozoma broke a non-disclosure agreement with the tech giant last year, publicly accusing racial discrimination, and California Senator Connie Leiva introduces “No More Silence” bill.
It seeks to ban settlement agreements that prevent employees from talking about harassment, and to protect individuals who violated nondisclosure agreements from disclosing factual allegations related to sexual harassment, assault, or sex discrimination goes further than California’s existing laws passed after #MeToo.
Ozoma hopes that the bill will be voted through by state legislators in the next few weeks and signed into law this year.
“The worker protection measures under these two bills will affect millions of people and make it easier to promote protection measures in more jurisdictions because the workers of these companies are scattered all over the world,” she said, adding Said that the gag clause is “inhumane.”
Pinterest, her former employer with an office in Dublin, said in a statement that it “supports [US] Silence no longer take action”, adding: “We want every employee to feel safe, supported and entitled to raise any concerns about their work experience. ”
Non-disclosure agreements have long been used by companies to protect company secrets, but they are increasingly being used to silence those who suffer from workplace bullying and harassment. in England, The Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found In 2019, some employers abused confidentiality agreements to “intimidate whistleblowers” [or] Conceal harassment or discrimination”.
Regulators, including the Lawyers Supervisory Agency in England and Wales, have tried to strengthen guidance on how confidentiality agreements should be used, but few governments have taken steps to reform employment laws.
Activists hope that legal reform can become a model for other countries. British Conservative Party member Maria Miller told the Financial Times that she will pass a 10-minute rule bill before Parliament in September to push Westminster to take action.
Perkins stated that she is “optimistic” that Ireland will pass her bill, which makes Irish lawmakers “become a global leader in providing the best NDA employment supervision, setting a precedent, and providing a template for other lawmakers in the UK and the world. “.