The House Speaker Proposes New Non-Compete Legislation in Massachusetts

This morning, House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast that the House will be releasing a bill this session that imposes some limitations on non-competes. Although the language of the proposed bill is not yet available, Speaker DeLeo described two key elements:

  • Time Limit: The proposed bill would limit non-competes to 12 months in length.
  • Notice Requirement: The proposed bill would require that employers inform employees in advance that they will be asked to sign a non-compete, and advise them of their right to seek legal counsel.

And although Speaker DeLeo did not offer any specifics, he attempted to ease public fears about the effects of non-competes on workers such as camp counselors and hairstylists by stating that the House would oppose non-competes for certain categories of workers such as low-income workers.

Speaker DeLeo described the impending bill as a compromise, defending the benefits of narrowly tailored non-competes while recognizing the opportunity to apply some new limitations. It is clear from this proposal that the Speaker is willing to address non-competes in some fashion, but would be opposed to anything close to an outright ban.

Speaker DeLeo indicated that the House would release the bill before the end of the current legislative session—July 31st. In each of the last few years, the state legislature has declined to act on other proposed non-compete legislation. It remains to be seen whether legislative efforts will gain any more traction this year, and whether the new Republican gubernatorial administration will go along with those efforts.

In the rapidly changing business world, protecting a company's human capital and proprietary information is critical to maintaining a competitive edge. On this blog, Nutter's experienced Business Litigation and Labor, Employment & Benefits attorneys offer news and insights on all aspects of restrictive covenants and trade secrets—from analyzing a rapidly evolving body of case law, to summarizing new legislation and legislative efforts, to providing other need-to-know updates and more.

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