Tag Archives: federal noncompete bill

Once again, we have resounding unanimity on the issues and recommendations to the FTC and DOJ, as they consider whether to regulate (and if so, how) noncompetes, nondisclosure agreements, and other restrictive covenants. 70 lawyers who practice extensively in the area of trade secret and restrictive covenant law agree: federal regulation is likely inappropriate, definitely premature, and, in any event, should be limited.
“Non-compete agreements that are unreasonable as to temporal length, subject matter, and/or geographic scope will be found to violate both federal and state antitrust laws.”

That’s new — especially because it’s from Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Christine Wilson.

But, at the end, Commissioner Wilson observed, “The elected officials in each state are best situated to weigh the costs and benefits of non-competes and make decisions tailored to the unique circumstances in their jurisdictions. . . . A federal solution at this time is premature.”
A recent paper, “The Ethics of Noncompete Clauses,” by University of Georgia Professor Harrison Frye, expands the policy discussion around noncompetes, and argues for a more thoughtful analysis. As Professor Frye details, seeing noncompetes “as solely advancing the interests of employers is myopic.”
As of Friday (July 16, 2021), we again have competing approaches to federal legislation proposing limits on noncompetes. In addition to the previously reintroduced Workforce Mobility Act, proposing an outright ban, Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) have now reintroduced the Freedom to Compete Act to ban noncompetes for most workers who are not exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
This afternoon, President Biden signed an “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” which included pushing for the regulation of noncompetes by the FTC. Based on his comments during today’s press conference (discussed in the post), we expect that any regulation will be balanced, focusing on regulating the abuses, rather than a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater wholesale ban.
Protecting trade secrets, confidential business information, goodwill, and any other recognized legitimate business interests does not happen by accident. Companies need to plan. And, when one of the key tools is taken away (i.e., noncompetes), they need to look more closely at the remaining options to ensure they have the protections they need and that fit their circumstances. We discuss them in this post.