Since we last wrote about DC’s sweeping ban on non-competes (the “Act”), there have been many questions and concerns, not surprisingly. And now those have spilled over into deliberations before the DC Council, leading to Councilmember Elissa Silverman’s introduction of the Non-Compete Conflict of Interest Clarification Amendment Act of 2021 on May 21, 2021. Councilmember Silverman and others hope to limit the new non-compete law before it gets funded with an effective date of March 16, 2021. While helpful, the Silverman proposals are extremely limited in scope, and so others have chimed in, leading to a potential delay of the Act’s implementation.
Continue Reading District of Columbia Councilmembers Seek Clarification on Non-Compete Ban

In a move aligned with California’s view of non-competes, the District of Columbia (subject to congressional oversight) will soon impose a complete ban on any employment covenant that restricts employment elsewhere at any time, even restrictions forbidding simultaneous employment somewhere else. On January 11, 2021, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (the “Act”), which will soon become law unless Congress issues a joint resolution disapproving the Act within 30 days of receipt of the Act. The projected date for the Act to become law is March 19, 2021. Then, in all likelihood, the Act will go into effect in the fall of 2021 once the DC Council tees up a fiscal impact statement and funding for the Act after the next budget cycle.
Continue Reading District of Columbia’s Sweeping Ban on Non-Competes

Legislators in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the site of Patrick Henry’s infamous “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech, have enacted legislation that gives more liberty to low-wage workers looking to leave for greener pastures, joining the ranks of many other states that have passed similar restrictions (stay tuned for a post soon on Indiana’s own recently passed non-compete legislation application to physicians). While the new law was passed quietly, it’s not particularly surprising that the Commonwealth sought to join the trend of restricting non-competes for low earners (see for example similar efforts in DC, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, and Massachusetts)—especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that is sending unemployment rates soaring.
Continue Reading “Give Me Liberty”: Virginia Legislature Passes Law to Exempt Low-Wage Workers from Employment Restrictions

Within the last five months, the two executive arms responsible for enforcing antitrust laws—the US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”)—held public workshops to examine the effect of non-compete clauses in employment contracts on the labor market. The DOJ held its workshop on September 23, 2019, while the FTC recently held its own at the top of the year, on January 9, 2020. The purpose of the FTC workshop was “to examine whether there is a sufficient legal basis and empirical economic support to promulgate a Commission Rule that would restrict the use of non-compete clauses in employer-employee employment contracts.”

Why the FTC now wants to regulate in the employment space is not readily apparent apart from attempting to capitalize on a low-hanging fruit populist issue concerning the overreporting of some companies allegedly using non-competes with low-wage workers.
Continue Reading A Solution in Search of a Problem? FTC Hosts Workshop to Consider Authority to Abolish Non-Competes

Joining the wave of jurisdictions limiting the competitive restraints employers may place on low-wage employees is Maryland.  Maryland’s Noncompete and Conflict of Interest Clauses Act (the “Act”)―which passed without Governor Larry Hogan’s signature on May 28, 2019―will take effect on October 1, 2019. Recognizing that certain non-compete and conflict-of-interest clauses violate Maryland’s public policy and are therefore null and void, the Act prohibits employers from mandating that certain employees not join another employer or become self-employed in a same or similar business area. The covered employees are those who earn equal to or less than $15 per hour or $31,200 annually. This prohibition applies even if the parties entered into the employment agreement outside of Maryland and is not restricted to only post-employment actions.  That is, a qualified employee may work for a competitor even during the term of employment.
Continue Reading Maryland Low-Wage Workers Are Exempt from Non-Compete Clauses

On December 28, 2018, a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the holding by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado denying the plaintiff’s, DTC Energy Group, Inc. (“DTC Energy”), request for a preliminary injunction against a collective of defendants: former DTC Energy employees Adam Hirschfeld (“Hirschfeld”) and Joseph Galban (“Galban”) and Ally Consulting, LLC (“Ally Consulting”), Hirschfeld’s new employer and a DTC Energy competitor.  DTC Energy Grp., Inc. v. Hirschfeld, No. 18-1113, 2018 WL 6816903, at *1 (10th Cir. Dec. 28, 2018).  In a majority opinion written by the Honorable Mary Beck Briscoe, the Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that DTC Energy failed to present evidence in support of a preliminary injunction.  Id., at *5.  In particular, while DTC Energy proffered prior harm as a consequence of Hirschfeld’s past breaches of his employment contract and the individual defendants’ failure to uphold their duty of loyalty, it could show that neither the prior harm established a significant risk of future irreparable harm saddled by DTC Energy nor Hirschfeld currently breached his employment agreement.  Id.
Continue Reading 10th Circuit Affirms that Employer Failed to Show How Past Harm Signified Future Irreparable Harm in Support of Preliminary Injunction Request in Trade Secret Battle

A Pennsylvania federal court recently denied Defendant Synchrony Group, LLC’s motion to dismiss a trade secret lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Jazz”) holding that Plaintiff sufficiently stated a trade secret claim. Jazz Pharms., Inc. v. Synchrony Grp., LLC, No. 18-602, 2018 WL 6305602 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 3, 2018).
Continue Reading Pennsylvania Federal Court Finds That Plaintiff’s Trade Secret Misappropriation Allegations Hold Up