Ex-Apple worker inspires Washington state’s actions to curb nondisclosure agreements

The Apple Inc logo appears outside the company’s 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, US, June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

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SAN FRANCISCO (November 24) (Reuters) – A former Apple company (AAPL.O) An employee who filed a whistleblower complaint about Apple’s use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) inspired draft legislation in Washington state that seeks to restrict companies’ use of non-disclosure agreements in workplace discrimination and harassment claims settlements.

This action follows similar legislation in California.

The offices of Washington State Senator Karen Kaiser and Representative Liz Perry, both Democrats, have confirmed that they are working on bills in their houses, which they plan to introduce in the next legislative session.

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Cher Scarlett, a former Apple employee based in Washington who has pioneered worker activism, said she reached out to Keizer in October to raise awareness about the issue. Chelsea Glasson, formerly at Google (GOOGL.O) The employee, who sued for pregnancy discrimination, also wrote to the attorney. One of Keizer’s aide said communication from both women helped inspire Keiser to pursue the bill.

“No worker should be silenced from sharing their deep personal story of workplace harassment or discrimination simply because they signed a nondisclosure agreement,” Perry said in a statement.

Non-disclosure agreements are common in the tech industry. Some employees have claimed that tech giants use it to discourage legally protected activities such as discussions about working conditions.

In September, investor Nia Impact Capital submitted a shareholder proposal calling on Apple’s board of directors to prepare “a public report to assess the company’s potential risks associated with its use of concealment clauses in the context of harassment, discrimination, and other illegal acts.”

Apple in October filed a response with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it wanted to disqualify the offer because “it is company policy not to use such clauses.”

After seeing Apple’s response, Scarlett said she filed a whistleblower complaint with the SEC in October, alleging that Apple made false and misleading statements to the regulator. She also shared the documents with Nia Impact Capital.

Scarlett, who left Apple last week, said she decided to make the information public this week, in violation of the terms of her settlement with Apple. Business Insider first reported the details of her story.

Apple declined to comment. The company previously said it was “strongly committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace.”

The Washington bill echoes the No More Silence Act, which was signed into law this year in California and co-sponsored by tech whistleblower Efuma Ozuma.

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(Julia Love reports). Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Otis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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