For many California employers, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are a crucial aspect of employment contracts. This is to protect sensitive information from being compromised, especially if an employee leaves to go work for a competitor. However, that has extended to employees not being allowed to discuss their job in any way when seeking work at a different company. A recent ruling in a lawsuit against Google may upend how these NDAs are crafted and employers should be prepared for it to avoid issues in the future.
Judge says Google’s polices violated California labor laws
In a lawsuit brought by an anonymous worker at Google, the plaintiff asserted that the NDA violated state labor laws. The judge equated the NDA as amounting to a non-compete clause and said that it broke state law. Initially, the case had been largely dismissed by another judge based on federal law. It was appealed and it was said that state laws protected free speech including the ability to discuss past work despite NDAs. This does not apply to trade secrets. Still, workers can talk about other aspects of their job.
Notably, this decision could open to the door to people who have been harassed and sexually assaulted to specifically say that was why they left their prior job. This is up in the air since the state has already addressed that concern. This ruling is especially challenging for tech companies that often use similar types of language in their NDAs as Google does. This relates to data and innovations that are understandably protected, but if a negative work atmosphere becomes known, it could hinder operations. Companies should be prepared if this ruling does impact how they formulate employer-employee agreements, employee handbooks and more.
Employment law from an employer’s perspective is key
Handling employer-employee matters can be complicated. This is true not just for everyday challenges that might arise, but for the NDA that details what employees and former employees can say about their former workplace. Tailoring a contract to protect employers while adhering to employment law is a fundamental aspect of operating effectively. To be fully prepared for any eventuality, it is useful to have help from legal professionals who are experienced in employment law from every perspective.