noncompete

Since 2020, with the adoption of Washington state’s non-compete statute (Chapter 49.62 of the Revised Code of Washington (“RCW 49.62”)), Washington has imposed significant restrictions on employer use of non-compete agreements with employees and independent contractors, permitting such agreements only subject to certain statutory and common-law requirements, including without limitation, a minimum annual earnings threshold (the 2024 limits are $120,559.99 for employees and $301,399.98 for independent contractors), and a Washington forum for any disputes.

Now, Senate Bill 5935 (“SB 5935”) – which takes effect on June 6, 2024 – amends the non-compete statute to further restrict the use of non-compete provisions and expand the types of agreements that may be considered non-competes. As a result, employers will need to take quick action to review their employment agreements and hiring processes to ensure compliance with the new law.

However, as discussed in our Covington Alert, on April 23, 2024 the Federal Trade Commission issued a final rule purporting to ban the use of non-competes with most U.S. workers.  The FTC Rule – should it become effective – would supersede inconsistent state laws.  The earliest the FTC Rule would take effect is late August 2024, and pending legal challenges may result in court orders that could delay or stay enforcement of the FTC Rule. Accordingly, employers with workers in Washington State should take steps to comply with SB 5935 before it takes effect on June 6, 2024.  Employers should also consider consulting with employment and executive compensation counsel for assistance with navigating the evolving non-compete landscape.

Here is an overview of the key changes under SB 5935:Continue Reading Changes to WA’s Non-Compete Law Require Employers to Take Action

New York lawmakers have been busy enacting a number of laws and regulations in 2023 that impose new requirements on employers, several of which have recently taken effect.  New York employers may need to update their policies, agreements, and practices to comply with the new laws, as summarized below.Continue Reading New York Employers Beware:  New Employment Laws Are In Effect And On The Horizon

On the heels of approving SB 699, which heightened the protections and reach of California’s prohibition of employee non-competes under California Bus. & Prof. Code Section 16600 (“Section 16600”) (see our blog post here), Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed AB 1076. AB 1076 further increases the litigation risk for employers that use employee non-competes and, most notably, requires employers to provide notice of any non-competes to current and former employees by early next year. Together, these two new laws, which take effect on January 1, 2024, reinforce California’s strong public policy against employee non-competes and specify new consequences for employers who seek to enforce or enter into such agreements.

As a reminder, SB 699 adds new Bus. & Prof. Code Section 16600.5 to: (1) prohibit an employer or former employer from attempting to enforce a contract (e.g., a non-compete) that is void under Section 16600; (2) grant current, former, and even prospective employees a private right of action for damages and injunctive relief, and to recover attorney’s fees and costs; and (3) expand the territorial reach of California’s prohibition of employee non-competes to apply “regardless of where and when the contract was signed.”Continue Reading California Doubles Down with Yet Another Law on Employee Non-Competes

California non-compete law has just been shaken-up—and the ripples are likely to travel across the country. For decades and save for narrow exceptions, California Business and Professions Code § 16600 has made post-employment non-competes unenforceable due to their potential to unduly restrain an individual’s business or profession. Effective January 1, 2024, however, Senate Bill 699 (“SB 699”) drastically expands both the protections and the reach of California’s prohibition on employee non-competes.

Specifically, SB 699:

  • prohibits an employer or former employer from even attempting to enforce a contract that is void under Section 16600;
  • grants current, former, and even prospective employees a private right of action for damages and injunctive relief—and to recover attorney’s fees and costs; and
  • applies to all non-competes “regardless of where and when the contract was signed.”

Continue Reading Will California’s SB 699 Shake Up Non-Compete Law Everywhere?

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued a groundbreaking proposed rule that would, if finalized:

  • prohibit most employers from entering into non-compete clauses with workers, including employees and individual independent contractors;
  • prohibit such employers from maintaining non-compete clauses with workers or representing to a worker that the worker is subject to a non-compete clause; and
  • require employers to rescind any existing non-compete clause with workers by the compliance date of the rule and notify the affected workers that their non-compete clause is no longer in effect.

The FTC’s notice of proposed rulemaking explains that the FTC considered possible limitations on the rule—such as excluding senior executives or highly paid employees from the ban—but it ultimately proposed a categorical ban on post-termination non-competes.  The only exception is for non-competes related to the sale of a business.  However, even this exception is unusually narrow: it would only apply to selling business owners who own at least 25% percent of the business being sold.  (The proposal also would not apply to most non-profits, certain financial institutions, common carriers, and others who are also outside the scope of FTC regulation.)Continue Reading FTC Proposes Rule to Ban Most Non-Competes

On October 1, 2022, the District of Columbia’s new ban on non-compete agreements (the Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020, as amended by the Non-Compete Clarification Amendment Act of 2022 (the “Act”)) went into effect. The final version of the Act is far less restrictive than originally anticipated and permits non-competes with highly compensated employees, non-competes paired with long-term incentives, and certain anti-moonlighting policies.

Key Takeaways

  • As of October 1, 2022, non-competes are prohibited in the District with limited exceptions.
  • Generally, employers can still enter into the following types of non-competes with District employees:
    • Non-competes with highly compensated employees that do not exceed one year; provided 14 days’ advance notice is given to the employee. 
    • Non-competes paired with a long-term incentive.
    • Non-competes entered into in connection with the sale of a business.
  • The Act permits specified workplace policies like confidentiality or non-disclosure policies, anti-moonlighting policies/outside employment restrictions, and conflict of interest policies. However, the employer must provide the policies to employees before October 31, 2022, within 30 days after acceptance of employment, and any time such policy changes.
  • Violations of the Act carry both administrative penalties and civil liability.
  • Prohibited non-compete agreements in effect before October 1, 2022, are not subject to the Act and remain in effect. However, employers should consult with legal counsel before amending these agreements.
  • Non-solicitations of customers and employees are not explicitly considered non-competes under the Act.
  • The Act does not apply to the terms of a valid collective bargaining agreement.

Continue Reading D.C.’s Scaled-Back Non-Compete Ban Is In Effect

Over three decades ago, in Loral Corp. v. Moyes, a California Court of Appeal held that employee non-solicitation agreements, which bar former employees from soliciting the employer’s existing employees, could be enforceable.  In 2008, the California Supreme Court in Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP held that non-competition agreements are unlawful restraints on trade and void under California Business & Professions Code section 16600 (with limited statutory exceptions), but left open whether employee non-solicitation provisions amounted to unlawful restraints on trade.  But recently, in a span of just months, two different courts in California have ruled that employee non-solicitation provisions are invalid under section 16600.
Continue Reading Rulings Question the Enforceability of Employee Non-Solicitation Covenants in California

On October 1, 2018, the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (the “Act”) came into effect, creating several new requirements for noncompetition agreements between employers and service providers based in Massachusetts. The new law does not impact agreements entered into before October 1; however, going forward, employers should evaluate when to seek a noncompetition agreement from a service provider and should update any form agreements to comply with the Act’s requirements. In this post, we highlight five considerations to help guide employers as they revisit their practices for Massachusetts workers.
Continue Reading New Rules for Noncompetition Agreements in Massachusetts

In a recent Delaware Chancery Court case, the court declined to grant a preliminary injunction to enforce a noncompetition covenant against a California resident and former employee, finding the covenant would be unenforceable under California law, despite an explicit choice of law provision in the relevant contract designating Delaware law as the governing law of