On May 2, 2022, the New Jersey Legislature introduced Bill A3715, adding to the growing number of states seeking to curtail the use of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements by employers. While passage of the bill is uncertain, A3715, if enacted in its current form, would make New Jersey one of the most inhospitable forums for employers seeking to enforce such agreements. Among a number of sweeping changes, including outright banning the use of post-employment restrictive covenants against a broad range of workers and otherwise limiting their duration to a maximum of 12 months, the proposed law further requires employers to pay 100 percent of the separated employee’s wages and benefits during the duration of the restricted period.
Last week, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Antitrust Division suffered back-to-back trial defeats in its recent enforcement initiative to use the Sherman Act to stop employers from using allegedly anticompetitive tactics to suppress wages and employee mobility. In the first case, the DOJ’s first ever criminal wage-fixing prosecution ended with not guilty verdicts. In the second case, a national healthcare provider and its former CEO were acquitted on charges involving allegedly illegal “no-poach” agreements.
Continue Reading DOJ Antitrust Division Suffers Back-to-Back Trial Defeats in Wage Fixing and “No Poach” Cases
The Biden Administration plans to issue an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to adopt rules to limit the use of noncompete clauses in employment agreements. According to Axios, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that “roughly half of private sector businesses require at least some employees to enter noncompete agreements, affecting over 30 million people. This affects construction workers, hotel workers, many blue-collar jobs, not just high-level executives. [President Biden] believes that if someone offers you a better job, you should be able to take it. It makes sense.” Indeed, in 2016, then Vice President Biden went on the record that “no one should have to sit on the sidelines because of an unnecessary non-compete agreement.” While the intervening years have not seen any federal action on non-competes, a number of states have enacted legislative changes to narrow the scope and availability of noncompete agreements.
Continue Reading Biden to Ban Non-Competes?
The New York State Legislature is keeping busy with new employment legislation as the local and national economies continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 21, 2021, both houses of the Legislature announced passage of portions of the NY Hero Act, which requires extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the pandemic. The Legislature is also advancing two additional employment-related bills: one would ban “no-rehire” clauses in employment settlement agreements, and the other would prohibit “no-poach” agreements between franchisors and franchisees.
Continue Reading New York State Enacts Worker Safety Legislation and Considers Other Employee-Friendly Bills
President-elect Joe Biden has issued a “Plan for Strengthening Worker Organizing, Collective Bargaining, and Unions” on his website, and it includes an interesting statement about what his incoming administration purportedly intends to do about non-compete and no-poach agreements:
Continue Reading Will Biden Ban Non-Competes?
As we previously covered, a group of 18 state attorneys general in July filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), asking the FTC to incorporate labor concerns when reviewing corporate mergers and to use its enforcement powers under the Sherman Act to stop the use of non-compete, non-solicit, and no-poach agreements in many situations. Many of those same attorneys general recently sent another letter to the FTC, this time urging it to use its rulemaking authority “to bring an end to the abusive use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts.”
In the most recent letter, the attorneys general endorsed the arguments presented in a March 20, 2019, petition submitted to the FTC by various labor unions, public interest groups, and legal advocates, requesting that the FTC initiate rulemaking to classify abusive worker non-compete clauses as an unfair method of competition and per se illegal under the FTC Act for low wage workers or where the clause is not explicitly negotiated. As they did in their previous letter, the attorneys general contend that non-competes “deprive workers of the right to pursue their ambitions and can lock them into hostile or unsafe working environments.” The attorneys general also argue that the arguments in support of non-compete clauses are unpersuasive and that employers can use other “less draconian” ways to recoup their investment in job training, methods of business, and other intangibles. The attorneys general further argued that non-competes burden businesses seeking to hire new employees, which in turn inhibits innovation and drives up consumer costs by suppressing competition.
Continue Reading State Attorneys General Keep Pressure on FTC to Regulate Non-Competes
We reported yesterday that the attorneys generals of ten states are investigating several fast food franchisors for their use of so-called “no poach” provisions in their franchise agreements. Well, less than twenty-four hours later, the New York Times has reported that seven fast food franchisors (mostly different ones than those who received the information demands discussed yesterday) entered into agreements…
Continue Reading Seven Fast Food Franchisors Agree To Stop Using “No Poach” Agreements Just Days After Announcement of State Attorney General Investigations
The Attorneys General of ten states are investigating fast food franchisors for their alleged use of “no poach” provisions in their franchise agreements, according to a press release by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, and as reported by NPR. In a July 9, 2018 letter, the Attorneys General for New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island requested information from eight fast food companies about their alleged use of such provisions. The letter states that the Attorneys General “have learned that certain franchise agreements used in our States and the District of Columbia . . . may contain provisions that impact some employees’ ability to obtain higher paying or more attractive positions with a different franchisee.” In other words, the agreements purportedly prohibit one franchisee of a particular brand from hiring employees of another franchisee of the same brand.
Continue Reading State Attorneys General Investigate Fast Food Franchisor “No Poach” Agreements