December 14, 2022

President Biden Signs Speak Out Act

On December 7, 2022, President Biden signed the "Speak Out Act" which became effective that day. The Act prohibits the enforcement of blanket non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses that are entered into before any allegation of sexual assault or sexual harassment. If such a provision is agreed to before a dispute arises it will be judicially unenforceable. Congress found that such provisions "can perpetuate illegal conduct by silencing those who are survivors of illegal sexual harassment and assault or illegal retaliation" and that they protect perpetrators, "enabling them to continue their abuse." The Act is in line with the new law signed in March to prevent the forced arbitration of sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.

A non-disclosure clause is defined in the Act as "a provision in a contract or agreement that requires the parties to the contract or agreement not to disclose or discuss conduct, the existence of a settlement involving conduct, or information covered by the terms and conditions of the contract or agreement." A non-disparagement clause is defined as a "provision in a contract or agreement that requires 1 or more parties to the contract or agreement not to make a negative statement about another party that relates to the contract, agreement, claim, or case."

Because the Act applies to pre-dispute clauses, employers remain able to include non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses in settlement agreements and separation agreements that resolve sexual harassment or sexual assault claims. The Act does not limit employers seeking to protect trade secrets or other proprietary information.

The federal law does not prevent states from enacting more restrictive laws. Employers should be mindful of what state and local laws require.

We recommend employers review their employment agreements and policies to ensure compliance with this Act.

Firm Highlights

Press Coverage

Court Rules Portland Rents Are Public Information, Not Trade Secrets

Rental information is public information and not protected from public record requests under the Maine Trade Secrets Act, according to a recent ruling by Justice Thomas R. McKeon of the Maine Business and Consumer Court. The...

Publication

Pre-Session Legislative Update

LD 3 “An Act to Establish the Winter Energy Relief Payment Program to Aid Residents with High Heating Costs and to Finalize the COVID Pandemic Relief Payment Program” After Governor Mills’ heating and housing...

News

Preti Flaherty Announces Attorneys Kristy Abraham and Mariana Baron Promoted to Partner

Preti Flaherty is pleased to announce that the firm’s partnership has named two new partners: Kristy Abraham and Mariana Baron. Both attorneys stand out as distinguished practitioners in the field of corporate law and...

News

Preti Flaherty Continues Year of Remarkable Growth with Addition of Five New Attorneys

Preti Flaherty is pleased to announce the arrival of five new Associates to the firm: Scott A. DeLong, Christopher S. Knight, Kijana Plenderleith, Harper A. Weissburg, and Joshua D. Williams. In our Portland, Maine, office...

Event

Dan Sonneborn to Present at Trucking Industry Defense Association 2023 Cargo Seminar

Preti Flaherty attorney Dan Sonneborn will be a speaker at the Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA) 2023 Cargo Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona, presenting on the topic of defending cargo claims concerning perishable goods and the Food...

Publication

Swearing-In Day Summary

Presiding Officers, Parliamentarians, and Constitutional Officers  The first day of the 131st Legislature was relatively uneventful, and what was most notable is what didn’t happen – the Governor’s emergency energy relief bill. The results...

News

Attorney Erin K. Naylon Joins Preti Flaherty’s Corporate and M&A Practice Group

Preti Flaherty is pleased to announce that attorney Erin K. Naylon has joined the firm’s Corporate and M&A Practice Group, working in the Portland, Maine office. Erin is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School...

Publication

FTC Proposes New Rule Impacting Legality of Non-Compete Agreements

Background Over the last several years, non-compete agreements, which prevent workers from joining a competitor or starting a competing business for a time after separating from employment, have become less common as states enact...

Publication

Committee Assignments

Committee assignments for the 131st Maine State Legislature have been made public. This article from the Bangor Daily News mentions some of the most interesting choices made by Senate President Jackson and Speaker Rachel...

Event

Dan Sonneborn to Present Webinar on Carmack Amendment Defenses for the Transportation Lawyers Association

On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, Preti Flaherty Attorney Dan Sonneborn will present the webinar "The Best Offense… Is a Good Defense? Using Exceptions to Swallow the Rule: The Nuts and Bolts of Carmack Amendment...