California's #MeToo Law Is About To Go Into Effect. Here's What It Does.

Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images.
California is one of the states leading the way to lasting change by restricting the use of non-disclosure agreements. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2019. The law, signed by outgoing Governor Jerry Brown in September, forbids the use of an NDA in settlements involving harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination based on sex, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Dozens of men and the wrongdoings they have fought to conceal have been uncovered in the wake of the #MeToo movement and a single document has become one of the most prevalent mechanisms: the non-disclosure agreement. NDAs were exposed this year for the long role they have played in silencing victims and enabling men to commit serial misconduct and avoid repercussions. The document has been extended far past its roots as a tool to prevent employees from sharing trade secrets and become something frequently used by lawyers and companies in settlement of sexual harassment and misconduct claims to keep them out of the public eye.
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Last spring, New York endorsed a new NDA law that also starts tomorrow and only permits confidentiality clauses at the request of the victim. The British Parliament is also in discussions to pass legislation in response to the #MeToo Movement.
According to USA Today, all 50 states have passed bills in the last two years surrounding sexual harassment, rape kits, and non-disclosure agreements. Another law enacted in California is giving publicly held companies until the end of 2019 to have at least one woman on their board of directors.
Some experts believe that these laws should go further, suggesting that a law be put in place that prevents perpetrators from leaving companies with substantial financial compensation. Many men accused of misconduct have left their respective employers with payouts amounting to tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars.
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