Earlier this year, Washington, D.C.’s mayor signed legislation, the “Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020” (the “Act”), which imposes sweeping limitations on during-employment and post-employment non-compete agreements for employees in the District of Columbia. We previously reported on this legislation.
Although the Act stated that it was to take effect following its publication in the District of Columbia Register, it also included the following provision: “This act shall apply upon the date of inclusion of its fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan.”
In other words, notwithstanding the Act’s definition of an earlier effective date, the Act was not slated to go into effect until the date it was included in D.C.’s 2022 budget—referred to as the “applicability date”—which most expected to occur by October 1, 2021. Shortly after passage, there were rumblings that Council members were considering amendments to the law—ranging from, among other things, a delay in the applicability date to exemptions for bona fide conflict of interest policies to income thresholds for the ban on non-competes, as opposed to an outright ban.
On August 10, 2021, the D.C. Council approved a budget—signed by D.C.’s mayor on August 23, 2021—that delays the applicability date of the Act until April 1, 2022. This postponement is significant because the Act’s limitations on non-competes is not retroactive, which provides employers with more time to continue to enter into non-compete agreements that satisfy the existing standards for determining the enforceability of non-compete restrictions rather than the far more limiting standards included in the Act.
Time will tell whether any substantive amendments materialize and modify the Act’s limitations prior to April 1, 2022.
Late in December 2020, the District of Columbia Council passed legislation titled, “Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020” (the “Act”), barring the use of non-compete agreements and workplace policies that restrict D.C. employees from competing with their employers after, and even during, employment. This week, the Mayor signed the law. Barring an unlikely intervention by Congress (which has authority to review legislation passed by the D.C. Council), the law will take effect after the 30-day Congressional review period.
This Act follows a recent, growing trend to limit the use of non-competes, but it goes further than other recent legislative efforts: it applies to employees at all income levels and even bars the use of “during-employment” non-competes and workplace policies such as those aimed at preventing disloyalty and abuse of company resources. Several key areas warrant emphasis.
Ban Applies to Employees Performing Work in D.C. for Employers that Operate in D.C.
The Act applies to “employees,” defined as any “individual who performs work in the [District of Columbia] on behalf of an employer and any prospective employee who an employer reasonably anticipates will perform work on behalf of the employer in the [District of Columbia].” The term “employer” is defined as “an individual, partnership, general contractor, subcontractor, association, corporation, or business trust operating in the District, or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer operating in the District in relation to an employee, including a prospective employer.”
If you’re an employer in Maryland, beginning October 1, 2019, you are prohibited from requiring a low wage worker (defined as someone earning less than $15/hour or less than $31,200/year) to sign a non-compete agreement with your company. Maryland’s law follows a national trend in which a number of other states have either passed or are considering similar legislation. Among those states that have already passed legislation preventing employers from enforcing non-compete agreements with lower paid employees are Illinois, Maine, and New Hampshire.
We wrote an earlier post about the Third Circuit’s opinion in ADP, LLC v. Rafferty, et al., confirming courts’ blue penciling authority (seehere); but the Third Circuit’s analysis of ADP’s two-tiered restrictive covenant structure is also worth discussing, as it may have employers doing some head scratching.
Why the focus on ADP’s two-tiered contracting approach?
ADP’s first-tier agreements for new hires included confidentiality obligations and a one-year customer non-solicit tailored to the employee’s assigned role and contacts, but no non-compete. ADP’s second-tier agreements (used in connection with stock incentives offered to high-performing employees) added a one-year territory-based non-compete and broadened the scope of the one-year non-solicit to include all customers and business partners for which ADP has provided services and all prospects for which ADP reasonably expects to provide services during the two-year period following the employee’s termination—regardless of the employee’s responsibility for them or access to confidential information about them during employment. Continue reading “Third Circuit Indicates Support for Use of Broader Restrictive Covenants in Post-Hire Agreements Rather Than a Uniform Approach at Hiring”
On April 26, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit weighed in on a pair of district court rulings which had denied ADP, LLC’s requests for preliminary injunctive relief against two former employees who ADP alleged had violated post-employment restrictive covenants. In ADP, LLC v. Rafferty, et al., the Court unanimously reversed the rulings and remanded to the district courts with instructions to “blue pencil the agreements and reconsider the four-factor preliminary injunction standard” as it relates to the former employees’ non-competition and customer non-solicitation obligations. The Third Circuit’s opinion restates what has long been the law in New Jersey and clarifies for anyone still in doubt that “New Jersey has evolved from invalidating overbroad restrictive covenants outright to presumptively ‘compress[ing] or reduc[ing]’ their scope ‘so as to render the covenant reasonable’” (alterations in original; citations omitted).
Countless companies contract with other companies to provide services and include a “no hire” provision (pursuant to which the parties to the contract agree to not hire employees of the contracting company) in the service contract. The goal of these provisions is to prevent the contractual business partner from raiding the other’s talent—at least not without paying a fee.
In what the Court acknowledged was the first test of this issue in Pennsylvania, earlier this month the Superior Court invalidated a “no hire” agreement between companies—even though they were not competitors. The Court reasoned that companies may enter into agreements barring solicitation of customers, but they cannot agree to “no hire” provisions. Non-compete agreements between employer and employee are still valid, but not via company-to-company “no hire” clauses. Continue reading “We Are Hiring: PA Superior Court Upends the Law on “No Hire” Agreements”
California employers know well that they cannot restrict their former employees from competing after the employment relationship ends. With limited exceptions, California law invalidates every contract under which a person is prevented from engaging in his or her profession, trade, or business.
California Business and Professions Code section 16600 codifies California’s longstanding public policy favoring open and uninhibited competition in the employment context. California’s public policy declaration can be summed up as follows: “The interests of the employee in his own mobility and betterment are deemed paramount to the competitive business interests of the employers….” Diodes, Inc. v. Franzen, 260 Cal. App. 2d 244, 255 (1968). Continue reading ““In Term” Covenants Not to Compete Void or Valid?”