Secret Settlements (SIGNED)

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO 

Carried by Chino Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, this SB 820 would end a confidentiality provision often used in settlement agreements to silence victims in sexual harassment cases and protect the reputations of serial offenders. The “STAND Act,” as it has been named, won’t bar settlement agreements. But while a victim’s name could be kept private, perpetrators’ names could no longer be kept confidential in cases of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

WHO SUPPORTS IT 

The California Women’s Law Center and Consumer Attorneys of California say basic facts to a settlement should be made available so repeat offenders can be identified. It’s also supported by Attorney General Xavier Becerra and advocates for equal rights.

WHO’S OPPOSED

The California Chamber of Commerce, representing business interests, argues that employee allegations are often disputed, and settlements often occur because neither party wants the expense and distraction of litigation that either side could easily lose. The one-sided loss of privacy protections, they say, will cause more employers to take workplace claims to trial to protect their public images, costing money and creating more trauma for workers who are abused.

WHY IT MATTERS

Secret settlements silence victims while allowing serial offenders to continue harassing. Making disclosure easier protects workers from abuse and employers from potential liability. Also the threat of exposure may deter sexual misconduct in the workplace.

GOVERNOR’S CALL

Signed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2018.

—Antoinette Siu