What’s going on:
If you are laid off from your company, your employer may offer severance pay — but you must agree to a set of restrictions, one of which could be an obligation of silence.
However, the National Labor Relations Board recently notified employers that they cannot legally silence laid-off employees in two distinct ways, as that would be in violation of sections 7 and 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act.
Why it matters:
No longer can employers include a broadly worded confidentiality clause that mandates employees keep quiet on the specifics of severance agreements, and they can no longer use a broadly phrased non-disparagement clause that stops employees from speaking to third parties about their work conditions.
Even if appealed, this week’s ruling from the labor board is currently in effect.
Employment attorney Alex Granovsky told CNN via email, “This decision opens the door. While on the one hand sunlight is the best medicine, and greater exposure should lead to better companies, this decision could also change the dynamics of a severance negotiation.”
How it’ll impact the future:
Employers will now need to thoroughly scrutinize and update their severance deals to prevent the use of overly expansive phrasing that would compromise their employees’ rights, per the board ruling.