Non-Competes Are A Problem. Here’s What You Can Do.

Mar 25 2022

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh!

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda. What are we talking about today?

DeMatteis: I thought we could talk about non-compete agreements. Non-competes affect so many employees in Connecticut – from executives to hourly workers and literally everyone in between. There are some changes that are being proposed to the Connecticut state legislature this year for consideration. I thought maybe you could share with us what those changes are and how Connecticut employees could potentially support this bill.

Goodbaum: You’re right that non-competes are a big issue for all kinds of Connecticut employees. The latest data suggests that nearly 40% of working people are governed by some form of non-compete, and that’s true in almost every profession. And for almost every profession with almost no exception, Connecticut law does not provide any certainty for those employees about whether their non-compete is enforceable or not. It’s very difficult for even a trained Connecticut employment lawyer like we are at Garrison, Levin-Epstein to look at a non-compete and know whether that employee is actually going to have to follow the non-compete or not. That leads in turn to employees being afraid to leave their jobs and take a new job because they don’t know whether they’re going to get sued by their prior employer. And that’s a real problem.

There is a bill currently pending in the Connecticut General Assembly to reform this issue of non-compete law in Connecticut. It is House Bill 5249, again H.B. 5249, and it would be a huge improvement for Connecticut employees in a number of ways. I’m just going to name three of them.

First, it would impose substantive restrictions on non-competes. The default would be they only apply for one year; they only apply in the geographic territory where the employee worked; and they only apply to the kinds of work that the employee did. If not, they’re totally unenforceable.

Second, there would be restrictions on the income of employees who can be susceptible to non-competes. The folks at the lowest end of the income spectrum – those who make less than three times the minimum wage – non-competes would not be allowed at all for those employees.

And third, employees would receive notice of non-competes ahead of having to sign them. Too often, employees are presented with non-competes right on their first day of work, having never heard before they’re going to be asked to sign them and having already left their previous job, which in turn means they basically have no leverage to negotiate the non-compete. This bill would require notice.

So, for those three reasons and many more, H.B. 5249 would be great for all Connecticut workers. So, if you work in Connecticut, consider calling your legislator to support this bill. Legislators really care about what their constituents think. Google ‘find my legislator,’ pick up the phone, or send them an email. Your elected officials should represent you, and if you work in Connecticut, you should care about this issue.

I strongly encourage you to get involved. Again, H.B. 5249 to reform the system of non-competes in Connecticut.

DeMatteis: Such important information, thank you so much for sharing. Thanks for watching!

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