Bill to End Non-Compete Agreements Filed on Beacon Hill

1/12/09Follow @wroush

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Rep. Brownsberger’s legislative aide provided the following text of the bill filed today:

“AN ACT TO PROHIBIT RESTRICTIVE EMPLOYMENT COVENANTS

Section 1.  Section 19 of Chapter 149 of the General Laws of Massachusetts is hereby amended by inserting at the end the following new paragraphs:

Any written or oral contract or agreement arising out of an employment relationship that prohibits, impairs, restrains, restricts, or places any condition on, a person’s ability to seek, engage in or accept any type of employment or independent contractor work, for any period of time after an employment relationship has ended, shall be void and unenforceable with respect to that restriction.  This section shall not render void or unenforceable the remainder of the contract or agreement.

For the purposes of this section, chapter 149, section 148B shall control the definition of employment.

Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be liable for reasonable attorneys fees and costs associated with litigation of an affected employee or individual.

This section shall be construed liberally for the accomplishment of its purposes, and no other provision of the General Laws shall be construed in a manner that would limit its coverage.  Nothing in this section shall preempt tort or contract claims, or other statutory claims, based upon an employer’s use, or attempted use of an unlawful contract or agreement to interfere with subsequent employment or contractor work.

This section shall apply to all contracts and agreements generated after the effective date of this act.

Section 2.  Section 42A of Chapter 93 of the General Laws of Massachusetts is hereby amended by striking the words ‘in violation of the terms of such agreement’ where they first appear.”

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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  • mike falkoff

    The legislation appears to be aimed at older or poorly drafted non-competition agreements that are not enforceable anyhow. It’s true that most agreements are of this type, over-reaching to some extent, and they do have a chilling effect on ex-employees. But Massachusetts has a well developed body of case law regarding what is a legitimate restraint. So rather than attempt to change the law without knowing what it is, perhaps the situation could be better addressed by requiring employers to hand out a notice that lists the employees basic rights- to practice their occupational skills, as well the obligations – to not disclose confidential or proprietary information of their former employer. Employers often use non-competition agreements simply because it is so difficult to actually determine whether an ex-employee has breached these other obligations.

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  • John

    Hi I am currently in a non-compete situation. I am just a average blue collar worker with good experience in my field, but under the non-compete I can not go to any competitor to work for them unless they are a 100 miles away from my current employer. My question is “Why should I be held back to make my life better when I am not a officer of my current employer?

  • Christian Teubner

    I need some advice as I just started a catering business that does the same thing as the last company I worked for. The issue is that the owner of that company was terrible with people, her employees and especially her clientel. Now her old clients want to go with me because I can give them a higher quality food at a cheaper price and offer more services. If they don’t like her and her way of doing business, that still means I could get sued if I sign a contract with them?

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  • xyz

    where we work [employer is private company] take advantage of Visa status [h1b visa] of employee and the NOn Compete agreement and make all employee to work extra 2- 4 hours a daily and he literally hell at the employee and ask them to work on weekends . Called weekend project if not you wont get bonus or salary wont be hiked .what happens if we join the competation company which we wont mind for less salary instead of we get helling and to put extra hours and stress /health .he has lawyer and treaten employee and employee dont have money to spend on lawyer.
    what do you do this type of employer ?

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