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A Deep Dive into Utah’s H.B. 55 Bill: Advocating for Workplace Transparency and Accountability

by | May 13, 2024 | ​​​Sexual Harassment​​

Man is filling in Non-Disclosure Agreement NDA.

On March 13, 2024, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed House Bill (H.B.) 55, a significant change in the state’s legislation related to workplace harassment imposing restrictions on particular types of nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreements, particularly those related to sexual harassment or assault claims.

H.B. 55 specifically pertains to agreements formed between employers and their current or former employees. Under the new regulation, any agreement hindering an employee from discussing issues of sexual harassment or assault or making negative statements about their employer in relation to such issues, is invalid. There is, however, a single exception: if an employee expressly requests confidentiality, then such an agreement may remain in place.

If you’ve experienced sexual harassment or other misconduct by an employer, contact our team of employment law attorneys today.

Benefit of H.B. 55 For Employees in Utah

The purpose of this legislation is to foster a more transparent and accountable work environment and empower employees to seek proper justice without the threat of being silenced. This initiative is not unique to Utah, as other states such as Arizona, California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, have passed similar pieces of legislation in recent years.

In addition, H.B. 55 seeks to nullify certain clauses enforcing confidentiality in employment agreements, specifically those concerning sexual offenses. Such clauses, when signed as a prerequisite of employment, are deemed counterproductive to public policy and are, therefore, void and unenforceable.

It is worth noting that the new law also denies employers the right to claim monetary damages from an employee’s breach of a voided confidentiality clause. In fact, such an attempt to enforce invalid nondisclosure terms could even result in the employer covering the defending employee’s legal expenses.

The law also discourages workplace retaliation by prohibiting employers from penalizing their employees who either: (1) raise allegations of sexual harassment or assault, or (2) refuse to agree to a contract containing nondisclosure or non-disparagement clauses regarding these matters.

Additional Impact of H.B. 55

H.B. 55 enhances Utah’s Antidiscrimination Act with the addition of Section 34A-5-114 and retroactively applies to agreements finalized after January 1, 2023. While the Utah Antidiscrimination Act generally applies to employers with a minimum of 15 employees, the anti-retaliation provision within H.B. 55 extends its reach to employers of all sizes.