Massachusetts Noncompete Law Takes A Significant Step Closer to Change

IMG_0017Massachusetts noncompete reform efforts took a significant step forward today.

Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo announced today a very thoughtful proposal for significant changes to Massachusetts noncompete law.

The proposal has three parts:

  1.  An exemption for low income workers. The idea is to ban noncompetes for people who rarely, if ever, should be subject to them – people like sandwich shop workers, landscapers, college interns, and the like.
  2. A statutory maximum duration of one year.
  3. A requirement that employers provide advance notice to employees who will be asked to sign a noncompete together with a stated right to counsel.

FullSizeRender.jpgThe details are not yet fleshed out, but each has been floated before in certain of the alternative, compromise bills that Representative Lori Ehrlich and Senator Will Brownsberger have filed over the last seven-plus years, since this movement started. (I drafted Representative Ehrlich’s first noncompete bill in December 2008, which she unknowingly filed virtually simultaneously with Senator (then Representative) Brownsberger’s filing of a proposed ban. By the spring of 2009, they began working together on a compromise, and I became the lead draftsperson for all of the various bills that followed.)

Given the history, I believe that the Speaker has given this extensive consideration, and I can only assume that his decision to include these elements in his proposal reflects his belief that there is a significant likelihood of change before the end of the session (in July).

What should you be doing now to prepare? Nothing. Changes are still a long way off. However, you do need to understand the changes when they happen, and will need to be prepared to make changes to your agreements. It will also be a good time to reevaluate the agreements overall.

More to follow