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6/15/2023 Tanzi/DiMario bill to ban non-disclosure agreements passes General Assembly
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly has passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Sen. Alana DiMario to ensure workers have the right to report alleged incidents of sexual harassment, discrimination or illegal activity. The bill would prohibit employers from requiring non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevent workers from discussing alleged violations of their civil rights or criminal conduct that they experience in the workplace.

“It is unacceptable that workers are being forced to sign away their rights as a condition of employment,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “If harassment or discrimination occurs, an employee can be prohibited from talking about it or seeking remedy in court. And perpetrators can avoid accountability and continue victimizing others. This bill protects the rights of workers to come forward and will ensure safer, more respectful workplaces for all of us.”

The legislation (2023-H 5929, 2023-S 0342aa) would forbid any employer from requiring an employee to execute a non-disclosure agreement or non-disparagement agreement regarding alleged violations of civil rights or criminal conduct as a condition of employment. NDAs could still be entered into voluntarily. Mandatory NDAs would still be permitted concerning all other confidential business information.

Across the country, 21 states currently limit NDAs or ban them outright.

“When workplaces or other institutions have a culture of secrecy, victims often think they are alone and bad behavior thrives,” said Senator DiMario. “Stigma and social pressure create enough barriers to coming forward and reporting abuses, without adding a threat to someone's livelihood from the moment they start a job. This bill will protect workers and ensure they don’t face legal barriers when they choose to seek accountability. It will promote safer workplaces for all.”

“The millions who have said ‘me too’ have shown us the power of survivors being able to speak out about discrimination, including harassment and sexual assault,” said Andrea Johnson, director of state policy at the National Women’s Law Center. “They have also shown us how too many employers have abused contractual tools like non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements to keep workers from coming forward and have swept discrimination, harassment and assault under the rug. This bill will remove a big legal barrier to survivor justice, and we’re grateful to Representative Tanzi and Senator DiMario for getting this done.”

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

For more information, contact:
Fil Eden, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903