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Update on non-compete agreements: it's clear where the feds stand

In the world's most entrenched capitalist society, entrepreneurial ideas and ventures have long driven national prosperity and dramatically evolving opportunities.

Understandably, most reasonable people in Florida and across the country have viewed that as a good thing, and for quite obvious reasons. For starters, business development drives job growth. And that in turn stimulates home purchases, vital infrastructural developments, upticks in scientific and related technological progress and many other salutary outcomes.

A common denominator and necessary precursor to all that is positive with the American economic system is reasonably unfettered labor mobility.

That is, workers in most industries in Florida and nationally must not be unduly hampered by restrictions when they pursue new employment or seek to create new commercial entities.

Business principals that manage employees have not always understood that. In fact, and unsurprisingly so, they often tend to take a narrow and proprietary view regarding the exodus of workers from their enterprises.

Put another way: They are wary that such employees will pass along skills and knowledge to competitors that they would rather see kept in-house. Or they at least pay lip service that that concern.

And they will quickly seek to avail themselves of all legal measures to promote that circumscribed result.

One long-tenured and well-recognized legal tool used by company managers to control workers who seek new career opportunities is the non-compete agreement, which has been consistently endorsed by proponents as an optimal device for barring the stealing of trade secrets and their application elsewhere.

We have spotlighted non-competes in past select blog posts at the Melbourne-based business and commercial law firm of Frese, Hansen, Anderson, Anderson, Heuston & Whitehead, P.A. We noted in our August 12 entry, for example, reports indicating that non-competes "inflict damage on consumers, prevent meaningful progress in the sciences, and harm the economy as a whole."

The pernicious effects of such agreements can apply with special force in the medical field, when highly skilled doctors and other industry specialists seek to explore new work opportunities and are effectively barred from doing so by existing contractual constraints.

We will have a bit more to say about that in our next post, using as a discussion backdrop a clearly expressed federal government consensus that has coalesced around non-competes.

We hope you will find the entry to be timely, engaging and personally relevant.

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