Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed two new bills into law that provide greater privacy protections for employees, while ending the use of nondisclosure, confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements for employees who have experienced sexual harassment.
The governor signed Senate Bill 1040, which prohibits employers from using an employee’s social security number (SSN), or any derivative of it, as a means of identification. Employers are also prohibited from including an employee’s SSN on any identification card or badge, access card or badge, or any other similar identification issued to the employee.
The use of SSNs as an identification number is a widespread practice that has been prevalent for many years. The misuse of SSNs has also been a major issue, leading to identity theft and fraud.
The governor also signed into law House Bill 1895. The new law prevents employers from requiring employees or job applicants to sign or renew nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements that conceal details of a sexual harassment claim.
These agreements often include non-disparagement provisions, which are intended to prevent employees from making any negative statements about their employer, including statements regarding sexual harassment claims.
Any provision in such an agreement is considered against public policy and is therefore void and unenforceable.
The intent of this law is to ensure that victims of sexual harassment have the freedom to speak about their experiences without fear of retribution or legal repercussions. By voiding the provisions of nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements, victims of sexual harassment may feel empowered to share their experiences and seek justice.
The new law does not prohibit nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements that do not conceal details of sexual harassment claims. Virginia employers may still require employees or job applicants to sign such agreements, provided that they do not have the effect of concealing details of a sexual harassment claim.
New federal rules and decisions also have clarified when and how an employer may require employees to agree to a nondisclosure or non-disparagement provision in an agreement.
The rules and requirements at the federal and state level are changing quickly. If you have questions about any provision from an agreement you recently received, or signed in the past, then contact Potomac Legal Group to discuss your matter. Our employment attorneys are experts in employment agreements, and we are closely following the changing rules.