Employers can no longer limit workers’ ability to speak about their company in exchange for settlement or severance payments, according to a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board.
Such agreements, including broad nondisparagement and confidentiality requirements, are widely used in layoffs or workplace legal disputes as a way for employers to ensure that employees won’t bad-mouth the company after the ink dries. But the NLRB has determined that these provisions violate the National Labor Relations Act if they ask workers to waive their rights, such as their ability to discuss the financial terms of their departure or how they were treated by the company.
The ruling arrives at a time when companies across tech, finance, media and professional services are undergoing layoffs, and as workers continue to reevaluate their relationships with employers in the wake of the Great Resignation. Airbnb, Citigroup and General Motors all announced staff reductions in the past week.