Courts and state legislatures continue to take aim at post-employment non-competes. In a companion blog, we recently detailed the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule banning post-employment non-competes. However, for years (and even under the FTC’s overreaching proposed rule), non-competes in the sale of business context have generally received less scrutiny.

Continue Reading Buyer Beware: Delaware Declines to Enforce Sale of Business Non-Compete

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a broad proposed rule that would ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. The FTC press release announcing the proposed rule states that noncompete clauses—which apply to about one in five American workers—suppress wages, hamper innovation, block entrepreneurs from starting new businesses and reduce American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year.[1] The proposed rule would prohibit employers from: (1) entering into or attempting to enter into a noncompete with a worker; (2) maintaining a noncompete with a worker; or (3) representing to a worker, under certain circumstances, that the worker is subject to a noncompete. The term “worker” covers paid staff in addition to independent contractors and unpaid staff. The proposed rule does not apply to noncompete provisions imposed upon 25% owners of a business in transaction documents related to the sale of the business. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period commencing when the Federal Register publishes the proposed rule.

Continue Reading FTC Seeks to Ban Noncompete Agreements in Employment Contracts

On December 7, 2022, President Biden signed the Speak Out Act (the “Act”) into law. The Act limits the enforceability of pre-dispute non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses relating to sexual assault and sexual harassment claims, but does not prohibit such provisions in settlement agreements or severance agreements.

Continue Reading President Biden Signs “Speak Out Act” Limiting the Enforceability of Non-Disclosure and Non-Disparagement Provisions in Sexual Harassment Cases

As economists argue whether a recession is on the horizon, some employers may begin to prepare to cut expenditures, including through a reduction in force. While not necessary under most state laws, many employers opt to provide severance to employees they choose to lay off. This severance is usually provided by way of a separation agreement in exchange for the employee’s agreement not to bring certain claims against the employer, among other things. As employers begin determining whether they will undergo a reduction in force, they should ensure their separation agreements adhere to applicable state laws.

Continue Reading Considering a Reduction in Force? Time to Revise Your Separation Agreement Template

On July 27, 2022, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the Non-Compete Clarification Amendment Act of 2022, scaling back certain aspects of D.C.’s original Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020. As we previously reported, the original ban included some of the most substantial non-compete restrictions in the country, including prohibiting the use of non-compete agreements for nearly all employees working in D.C. and banning anti-moonlighting policies. Here are some key takeaways from the Amendment:

Continue Reading The District of Columbia Revises Ban on Non-Competes

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that originally decided Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta last fall recently issued an order withdrawing its prior opinion and granting a panel rehearing. The divided panel’s original decision upheld portions of Assembly Bill 51 (“AB 51”), a California law that prohibits employers from requiring that employees sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. The panel’s decision to rehear the appeal is notable because it suggests that the panel may rule that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempts AB 51 in its entirety following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana. The Supreme Court in Viking River Cruises held that California law precluding the division of PAGA actions into individual and non-individual claims through an agreement to arbitrate was preempted by the FAA.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Grants Rehearing on California Law Banning Mandatory Employment Arbitration Agreements

On August 10, 2022, Colorado House Bill 22-1317 became law. Following the national trend of limiting employer use of non-compete and non-solicit covenants, Colorado now prohibits the use of non-competes and non-solicits except in the sale of business context and with “highly compensated” workers. The law also provides specific notice requirements and imposes costly penalties for non-compliance. The law’s requirements and penalties are not retroactive. The key requirements of the new law are as follows:

Continue Reading Colorado’s New Restrictive Covenant Law Now Effective

Following a nationwide trend, New Jersey recently joined a growing list of states seeking to limit the use of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements by employers.

Continue Reading What Employers Need to Know About Newly Proposed Non-Compete Legislation in New Jersey

Since President Biden’s July 2021 direction to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility,” the FTC has ratcheted up its scrutiny of and investigations into non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants. Now, the FTC has expanded beyond post-employment restrictive covenants to tackle “sale of business” non-competes. Most recently, the FTC voted in favor of a deal-changing proposed order against ARKO Corp. related to its 2021 acquisition of sixty fuel outlets from Corrigan Oil Company.

Continue Reading Buyer (and Seller) Beware: The FTC Is Coming for Your M&A Non-Competes

Over the past two years, employee mobility seems to be at an all-time high.  In fact, the labor market is so fluid that pundits and experts often refer to it as the “Great Resignation.”  Although employee mobility can be a great opportunity for both employees and prospective employers, employers hiring new employees should always beware of potential problems such as restrictive covenants, which may follow an employee to a new job.
Continue Reading Void vs. Voidable: The Distinction That Can Make or Break a Tortious Interference Claim in Light of the Great Resignation

Illinois recently passed legislation amending the Freedom to Work Act (the “Act”), following a growing trend of states imposing greater restrictions on employers’ use and enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation covenants.
Continue Reading Illinois Imposes New Restrictions on Non-Competes and Non-Solicits