Are Confidentiality Agreements Governed by Federal or California State Law?

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In recent news, the presiding judge in California Superior Court considered the question of confidentiality agreements and specifically whether they are governed by California state law or federal law.

History of the Case: Looking at Google's Confidentiality Agreements

Do Google's confidentiality agreements break labor law? John Doe, a Google employee, claimed Google's "broad" nondisclosure agreement barred him from speaking about his job to other potential employers, which he argued amounted to a non-compete clause in violation of California labor law. The plaintiff also alleges that Google's NDAs block whistleblowing and discussing pay rates with co-workers.

The Defendant: Google

When the judge found that Google's NDAs effectively amount to illegal non-compete agreements, the search engine giant and other Big Tech firms with similar policies and procedures saw a significant setback.

The Ruling: Big Corporations & Confidentiality Agreements

A California judge recently agreed with the plaintiff that Google's NDAs equate to a non-compete agreement violating labor law. The decision could make it easier for California workers at Big Tech firms like Google (known for their secrecy) to speak openly. However, the judge declined to make a judgment on additional allegations regarding the NDA blocking whistleblowing and sharing pay rates with co-workers. Many see the ruling as a victory for labor advocates seeking to obtain relaxed confidentiality policies from Big Tech companies. Currently, Big Tech companies are known for compelling employees to stay silent about all aspects of their positions even after they're no longer with the company. In the years preceding this potentially significant decision, California has introduced new legislation aiming at confidentiality agreements related to sexual harassment and discrimination, so some see this as a natural evolution of the positive change. However, the decision is not final, and Google could appeal. If Google does not appeal, or if they lose the appeal, this decision could have a real impact on how much power Big Tech companies and other California employers hold over their employees.

If you have questions about an NDA or need to talk about employment law violations in the workplace, get in touch with Moss Bollinger, Oxnard, California employment law attorney. He's dedicated to protecting and asserting the rights of his clients. Call 866-942-7974 today for a free consultation or contact us online.

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