On September 15, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law that made dramatic changes to the enforceability of invention assignment provisions in employment agreements and likely in related agreements including offer letters and Confidentiality, Information and Invention Assignment Agreements (CIIAAs). The law took effect immediately and adds New York to a growing list of states with laws placing limits on invention assignment provisions.

Continue Reading Necessity Is the Mother of Invention – But New York Law Says Employers Better Not Take the Credit

California has passed two new items of legislation, Senate Bill 699 and Assembly Bill 1076, which will further regulate and restrict the enforcement of employment non-compete agreements in California, and expand the scope of remedies for those affected by them. These new laws will become effective on January 1, 2024, and now is the time for employers to assess and revise their employment-related agreements and restrictive covenants accordingly. As detailed below, they also require employers to notify employees and certain former employees by February 15, 2024 that certain non-compete provisions are void. The two new laws are detailed below.

Continue Reading California Strengthens Non-Competition Law

For those employers who have not yet modified their Minnesota employment and non-compete templates, the time is now. Pursuant to MN SF 3035, as of July 1, 2023, Minnesota employers are prohibited from entering into post-employment non-compete agreements with employees and individual independent contractors. 

Continue Reading Time for Employers to Modify Minnesota Protective Covenant Templates

In a blog earlier this year, we discussed the Delaware Chancery Court’s refusal to enforce a sale of business non-compete in Kodiak Building Partners, LLC v Adams. We wondered then whether Kodiak represented a one-off decision or whether it augured a trend that might give buyers of businesses pause. Delaware courts seem to have answered the question. In what constitutes a notable trend for buyers of businesses, Delaware courts have twice more refused to enforce non-competes under a sale of a business analysis. 

Continue Reading Buyer Beware: Delaware Courts Continue to Refuse to Enforce Deal-Based Non-Competes

Executive Summary

A sweeping bill that would effectively ban all newly entered non-compete agreements (and potentially impact provisions and agreements that act as a de facto non-compete) for all employees, regardless of wage or income level, is heading to New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk.

Continue Reading The End of Non-Competes in New York? State Legislature Passes Non-Compete Ban Moving One Step Closer to the Edge

On April 19, 2023, the California Court of Appeal held that an employer’s arbitration agreement was unenforceable because of unconscionable terms found in other documents provided to employees during the onboarding process. The decision was certified for publication on May 10, 2023. In Alberto v. Cambrian Homecare (Apr. 19, 2023, No. B314192) ___Cal.App.5th, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision that a standalone arbitration agreement was unconscionable based on terms contained within the employer’s confidentiality agreement. Because the arbitration and confidentiality agreements were presented to the employee at the time of hire and related to the employee’s employment, the Court found that the employer’s confidentiality agreement was part of the “contract” to arbitrate, and the two agreements must be read together. The Court then reasoned that unconscionable terms in the confidentiality agreement permeated the arbitration agreement rendering it unenforceable. The Alberto decision is an important development for employers utilizing arbitration agreements along with other types of employment-related agreements as it creates a new risk of losing the benefits of arbitration.

Continue Reading It Is Time to Check Your Onboarding Documents – Employer’s Confidentiality Agreement Renders Its Arbitration Agreement Unenforceable

Imagine paying millions to acquire a company only to later discover the restrictive covenants in the employment agreements of high-level executives were unenforceable. That’s precisely what happened in Intertek Asset Integrity Management. In Intertek, Texas’s Twelfth Court of Appeals held a company Vice President’s non-compete was unenforceable by the purchaser-entity because the underlying employment agreement lacked an assignment clause. Such language, if included, would have permitted the seller to transfer the contract’s rights and obligations without the employee’s consent. Assignability clauses are frequently buried in the “miscellaneous” section of agreements and—too often—omitted. Businesses who overlook these terms in Texas employment contracts do so at their peril.

Continue Reading Missed Assignments: The Importance of Assignability Clauses in Restrictive Covenant Agreements

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