Some people may not think much about a non-competition agreement. It's in their contract when they agree to become an employee at a company, and they simply sign it and move on. This is perfectly understandable because non-completes are designed to be stealthy contracts that are just "part of the process of becoming an employee." Under such a description, it is no wonder that many people just gloss over the importance of these contracts.
But the federal government certainly hasn't. They are calling for a review of non-competition agreements and would like for a crackdown on these contracts. What that ultimately means is unclear, and how that eventually pans out is equally unclear. But it is nice to know that non-competes are being critiqued.
Non-competes are inherently anti-employee. The guise is that an employee "gets" something out of signing the contract: a job. But if the employee is qualified and the employer wants that candidate for a position, it shouldn't matter whether the employee is restricted in his or her movements after this new job. And that's what non-competes do.
Non-competes can restrict your ability to work in a certain geography. They can restrict your ability to work in the same industry as your last employer. They can limit your job prospects for a set amount of time. And, in general, they just make it more difficult for people to find work.
It should be interesting to see how this story develops over the coming months and years, and we hope there is significant developments that improve that rights and well-being of employees.
Source: USA Today, "White House launches crackdown on non-compete clauses," Gregory Korte, Oct. 25, 2016