Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law two bills that affect staffing employers.

No more silence. Inslee on March 24 signed into law the Silenced No More Act, which prohibits agreements containing nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions that prevent an employee or independent contractor from discussing certain violations of law, including illegal acts of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, and sexual assault.

The provision applies to current, former or prospective employees or independent contractors who are Washington residents governed by Washington law. It does not prohibit the protection of trade secrets, proprietary information or confidential information that does not involve illegal acts.

The now-prohibited provisions in agreements “have become routine and perpetuate illegal conduct by silencing those who are victims or who have knowledge of illegal discrimination, illegal harassment, illegal retaliation, wage and hour violations, or sexual assault,” the act states.

Washington becomes the second state, after California, to render such provisions in employment and independent contractor agreements void and unenforceable if they prevent disclosures of certain illegal conduct, The National Law Review reported.

The act applies to nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions contained “in employment agreements, independent contractor agreements, agreements to pay compensation in exchange for the release of a legal claim, or any other agreement between an employer and an employee” or independent contractor. It also prohibits employers from requesting or requiring an employee or independent contractor to enter into an agreement containing a prohibited provision.

Pay rate disclosure. Effective Jan. 1, 2023, employers in Washington state with 15 or more employees will be required to disclose in all job postings a wage scale or wage range, as well as all of the benefits and other compensation to be offered in connection with the position, according to a new law signed March 30 by Inslee.

The new law retains the state’s requirement that employers must provide existing employees being offered new positions or transfers the wage scale or salary range for the employee’s new position. However, an existing provision that allows employers to provide only the minimum wage or salary expectation set by the employer for the transfer role if no existing wage scale or salary range exists has been rescinded. So, employers must ensure that a wage scale or salary range is available for all roles subject to internal transfer.

California bill would require pay rate data reporting for temps

State Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, introduced a bill, SB 1162, that would require companies with more than 100 employees to publicly report pay data broken down by race, ethnicity and gender for both direct employees and workers hired through staffing firms. It would also require disclosure of salary ranges on all job postings and make employers’ internal promotional opportunities available to current employees.

A similar bill, SB 973, became law in 2019. The previous bill requires employers with more than 100 employees to submit pay data reports to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. However, that bill does not require the information to be publicly available, and it does not require pay data on contingent workers. SB 1162 would close those gaps, Limón says.

“Pay transparency is key to achieving pay equity,” Limón says. “SB 1162 will help identify the gender and race-based pay disparities by requiring pay transparency at every stage of the employment process, from hiring to promotion and ongoing employment.”

“During our research for the Contract Worker Disparity Project, we found that contract workers (who are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, women and nonbinary) are more likely to be paid less and have less access to benefits and protections, despite performing similar work to direct employees,” says Catherine Bracy, CEO and co-founder of TechEquity Collaborative.

SB 1162 has been referred to the judiciary committee.