New Laws for 2019 – Sexual Harassment and Confidentiality – Waiver of Right of Petition or Free Speech

Another bill signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2018 was AB 3109.

The law references California’s Constitution which provides that “people have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances and to assemble freely to consult for the common good. The California Constitution provides that every person may freely speak, write, and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right.”

The introduction to the bill emphasized that contracts can be ruled unlawful if they violate an express provision of the law, are contrary to “the policy of express law,” even if they aren’t prohibited, and if the contract is “contrary to good morals.” Contracts can’t restrain from a person “from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind.”

The new law’s protection of the right to testify

The bill would follow-up on the desire to protect free speech and prohibit contracts that regulate such speech by providing that any contract or settlement provision that does the following would be void and unenforceable:

“Waives a party’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment.”

According to an article in the National Law Review, this law was enacted in response to litigation involving  “the lawsuit filed by American Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney against the US Gymnastic Association (USGA)” which involved a settlement she reached with the USGA regarding the sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the team’s physician. The settlement agreement required her to be silent about sexual abuse events when she was 13 years-of-age. Her failure to be silent could have resulted in a $100,000 penalty. Ms. Maroney wanted to be able to testify in Nassar’s criminal trial so she filed a claim challenging the penalty. Ultimately, the USGA waived the fine so she could testify.

There’s no excuse for sexual harassment in the workplace

Employees who have been sexually harassed by an employer, a manager, another employee, or anyone who does business with the employer has the right to hold the employer accountable. This includes the right to file a claim for any economic loss and emotional suffering due to sexual harassment. To speak with a strong-caring attorney, call the law offices of Stephen Danz & Associates, today. We have offices across the state. Our lawyers understand how traumatic sexual harassment ins. Call (877) 789-9707 to schedule an appointment. We’re ready to help you get justice.  Se Habla Espanol.