Salesforce expands silenced ‘No More Law’ protections in the US

Salesforce has just become the latest tech giant to commit to limiting the scope of nondisclosure agreements, allowing workers to talk about instances of harassment or discrimination they experience on the job. Salesforce and all California employers are already required to make these changes to workers in the state under California’s Silenced No More Act. But the new policy extends that protection to all Salesforce employees across the country.

“Our employees are key stakeholders, and it is critical that we provide them with support to ensure they are happy, healthy and protected,” the company wrote in a blog post on Friday. Salesforce plans to implement the changes by the end of 2022.

Much of the credit for the shift goes to the so-called Employment Agreements Transparency Alliance, a group of advocates and investors that uses shareholder proposals to encourage tech giants, including Salesforce, Meta, Alphabet and Apple, to expand the policies laid out in the No Silence Anymore” for all of its employees. One of the leaders of this alliance, former Pinterest employee Evuma Ozuma, has been instrumental in pushing this law forward in California. Another version of the law was also recently passed in Washington state.

“From the beginning, my goal in putting together the alliance has been for us to get this protection for as many workers as possible in as many jurisdictions as possible, and that certainly is a massive accomplishment for that goal,” Ozuma said of the Salesforce commitment. The company has offices in more than a dozen US states. Now that Salesforce has committed to making these changes, the alliance is withdrawing its proposal.

Salesforce isn’t the first tech company to run this lobbying campaign. After facing a similar proposal from the coalition earlier this month, Google asserted in its SEC filing that employees are free to discuss workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation, even under their existing non-disclosure agreements. Although the company insists this is not a new policy, it has not previously published the exact terms of its employee agreements — especially not in a place where investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission can keep them.

Meanwhile, Apple initially asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to dismiss the alliance’s proposal calling for a report on its use of concealment clauses. Apple argued that the company had “already implemented” the proposal in its business conduct policy. The Securities and Exchange Commission rejected the request and is now looking into whether the company misled investors with its statements. Meanwhile, in its proxy statement, Apple ended up incorporating Silented No More Act language into all US separation agreements, which Ozoma sees as a major victory for the alliance’s business.

“The point of ‘Silenced No More’ is to enshrine protection in the actual contracts that people sign,” Ozuma said. “It’s not employee handbooks that can be changed and changed on a whim.”

Ozoma and the alliance also secured commitments to extend this protection from Twilio, Expensify and Pinterest, Ozoma’s former employer. Uzuma and former colleague Erica Shimizu Banks have publicly made allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the company, which prompted them to continue their activism.

The coalition’s work, along with that of a growing number of state legislatures, indicates that the tech industry’s wall of secrecy is on its way to collapsing. Investors, legislators, and workers themselves seem increasingly supportive of freeing employees from gag orders that often wind up in their faces.

The only question now is: Who is next?

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