By Jamie Herzlich, Newsday

Employees shouldn’t be bound by broad confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions that muzzle their ability to speak out against a former employer as a condition for their severance payout.

That’s what the National Labor Relations Board has said in a recent ruling that limits the extent employers can use confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses in severance agreements.

Reversing two Trump-era rulings, the board determined that requiring employees to sign such broadly written clauses is in violation of federal law under the National Labor Relations Act.

But keep in mind this doesn’t mean employees can engage in slander or tell lies, says Christine Malafi, senior partner and chair of the corporate department at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick LLP in Ronkonkoma.

Unprotected is speech that is “reckless or maliciously untrue,” she says.

Also, this doesn’t stop employers from drafting narrower agreements protecting their trade secrets, Malafi says.

A March 22 memo from the NLRB’s general counsel said the ruling covers past as well as current and future severance agreements, she says.

She says while many companies still use non-disparagement clauses in severance agreements, their use is declining. And over the last couple of years “more employees are calling out non-disparagement clauses,” Malafi says.

“They say: we won’t sign it with that in it,” Malafi says.

Read the full article on Newsday’s website.