Your company's overzealous protection of its secrets could put it on the wrong side of Dodd-Frank. The Dodd-Frank Act Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in 2010, sought to make it much easier for employees to report corporate wrong doing. And the SEC has made it clear that company confidentiality agreements that impede whistleblowing can violate that law. Just last spring, the SEC settled one of its first confidentiality-based enforcement actions, claiming that a corporate confidentiality agreement was unlawful "pretaliation."
Now, the SEC has severance agreements in its sights as well. The Commission recently took action against two companies whose pretty standard severance agreements the SEC felt violated Dodd-Frank. It might be time to redo your standard severance agreements before the SEC comes your way, too.