On April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) voted 3-2 to issue its final rule (“Final Rule”) banning employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers, approving the final rule in a special Open Commission Meeting. Continue Reading FTC Votes to Ban Noncompete Agreements

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

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

The tension between encouraging free and fair competition and protecting competitive advantages derived from hard work and ingenuity is at the very heart of trade secrets law. Among other things, this tension manifests itself in the gray areas endemic to any legal analysis of what information may constitute a “trade secret.” In comparison, assessing the behavior of those accused of misappropriating trade secrets can sometimes be a much more straightforward exercise. And it seems that the more egregious (and less “gray”) the behavior, the more likely a court is to exercise its limited discretion to restrain competition at the preliminary relief stage to prevent disclosure and use of misappropriated trade secrets. The 3rd Circuit’s recent decision in Matthews International Corp. v. Lombardi(October 12, 2022) is a timely example of this principle.
Continue Reading One Bad Apple Won’t Spoil the Rest of the Bunch’s Ability to Fairly Compete in Matthews International Corp. v. Lombardi

On July 27, 2022, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the Non-Compete Clarification Amendment Act of 2022, scaling back certain aspects of D.C.’s original Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020. As we previously reported, the original ban included some of the most substantial non-compete restrictions in the country, including prohibiting the use of non-compete agreements for nearly all employees working in D.C. and banning anti-moonlighting policies. Here are some key takeaways from the Amendment:
Continue Reading The District of Columbia Revises Ban on Non-Competes

Over the past two years, employee mobility seems to be at an all-time high.  In fact, the labor market is so fluid that pundits and experts often refer to it as the “Great Resignation.”  Although employee mobility can be a great opportunity for both employees and prospective employers, employers hiring new employees should always beware of potential problems such as restrictive covenants, which may follow an employee to a new job.
Continue Reading Void vs. Voidable: The Distinction That Can Make or Break a Tortious Interference Claim in Light of the Great Resignation

Employers faced with an apparent trade secret misappropriation by former employees must decide what jurisdiction to bring suit in.  For an employer headquartered outside of California who employs California residents  working primarily in California, choice of law and forum selection clauses favoring states other than California may be ineffective against them unless they had counsel who negotiated the provisions on their behalves.  (Cal. Lab. Code § 925.)  A recent California Court of Appeal decision highlighted this point, and found that where a California employee is sued by the employer for trade secret misappropriation in a separate state based on an out-of-state forum selection clause, the employee may separately sue in California to void the provision, despite the ongoing litigation in a sister state (See LGCY Power, LLC v. The Superior Court,  75 Cal. App. 5th 844 (2022).)
Continue Reading California Labor Code Section 925: A Word of Caution for Out-of-State Employers of California Employees

This month, the Ninth Circuit’s decision in DePuy Synthes Sales v. Howmedica Osteonics  held that a U.S. district court in California properly invalidated a foreign choice-of-law and forum selection provision under California Labor Code § 925, and denied a motion to transfer the case to a different venue.  While this might seem at first blush like a technical issue of federalism and contractual interpretation, the decision indicates that federal courts in the Ninth Circuit will also apply California’s partial prohibition on the use of foreign forum-selection and choice-of-law clauses as to employees.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Upholds Application of California Labor Code To Contractual Forum-Selection and Choice-of-Law Clause To Keep Dispute Over Non-Compete Clause in California