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.
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.”…
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clause with workers by the compliance date of the rule and notify the affected workers that their non-compete clause is no longer in effect.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.)…
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.
- 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.
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