SB 820 amended to protect public access to settlements

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved on a 5-1 vote a bill to prevent individuals and business from entering into secret settlements in sexual harassment cases.

SB 820 was prompted by the pervasive use of secrecy provisions that have hampered women from talking about their experiences in light of the Me Too movement.

Authored by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino Hills), the bill is sponsored by the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Screen Actors Guild.

CNPA raised concerns with one provision of the bill that would allow a claimant to demand secrecy in any settlement for sexual harassment. Applied to government agencies, this provision would have ended the requirement that any secret settlement entered into by a government agency be publicly disclosed.

Ultimately, the bill was amended to address CNPA’s concern. The amendment provides: “This subdivision does not apply if a government agency or public official is a party to the settlement agreement.”

As a result of the amendments, CNPA removed its opposition to the measure. The bill is now on the Senate floor.