Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gaining Steam: The Campaign to Ban Non-Competes in Massachusetts

A bill was introduced on Beacon Hill this week to make non-competes illegal and unenforceable in Massachusetts.

Richard Tibbetts of StreamBase offers some advice about how you can get your Massachusetts representative and state senator behind the bill.

Will Brownsberger is the state rep from Belmont/Cambridge who introduced the bill.

Here's the key legalese:

    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.

Just today, Play Hard Sports CEO Jeffrey Anderson was telling me how non-competes make it really challenging to get the best people aboard a new company... not a problem they have out in California.

Worth reading is Angelo Santelli's blog post on the bill:

    One argument that has been made in favor of non-competes is to prevent a cadre of engineers from leaving a company en masse to start another potentially competing company. I actually witnessed this first hand while at Shiva and I still don’t like non-competes. It was a mistake to lose these great engineers in the first place. The second mistake was not investing in their business and getting a seat at the table in the event that they were successful, which they eventually were.

    I commend Rep. Brownsberger for filing this bill and hope it passes. All in favor say, “Aye”.

...To which I offer a hearty "Aye."

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Anonymous Stacie Andrews said...

I wonder if banning an employee immediately following termination, from directly or indirectly, calling on, soliciting, or taking away, or attempting to call on, any of the customers or clients of the Company on whom the employee became acquainted with during the term with the company -- will be legal?

January 15, 2009 2:12 PM  
Blogger Scott Kirsner said...


There's a difference between a non-compete (you must wait for a year or longer before going to work for anyone who is remotely competitive with your former employer) and a non-solicit agreement, which means you can't poach clients from them...

January 15, 2009 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Bennett said...

As we look at the gap that has emerged between east coast and west coast this non-compete threat is no doubt a component. Companies should work hard to create an environment where talented people will want to work...good culture, building cool things, collaborating with other smart people...not just rely on the threat of litigation. I think this has stymied some things here.

January 16, 2009 8:27 AM  
Blogger John Kluza said...

This post has been removed by the author.

January 17, 2009 11:08 AM  

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