An upper-tier government spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Labor recently made some unveiled and telling comments regarding non-compete agreements, with her conveyance of those points being clearly presaged by signals communicated by the Obama administration earlier this year.
Foremost, the White House take on non-competes is most patently this: For the most part, they're dubious legal instruments that should be disfavored, and for myriad reasons.
Sharon Block, a policy official with the DOL, noted in a recent writing on the department's website tandem reports issued by the White House and the U.S. Department of Treasury, respectively, this past spring that criticized non-competes on a variety of fronts.
Block's comments supplied additional ammunition for a growing legion of non-compete critics across the country. She noted a White House "call to action" aimed at material reforms, calling non-competes "blunt" legal tools that "should be the exception, rather than the rule." Like many others who disparage their use, she decried a number of pernicious effects that flow from the legal enforcement of their terms, including stifled creativity, diminished scientific achievement, a disjointed job market and diluted bargaining power for workers.
We have previously noted the outsized adverse consequences that non-competes can visit upon professional workers such as physicians, accountants, engineers and architects. Even in instances where a company claims it is imposing non-compete restrictions on a former worker or would-be departing employee in order to safeguard trade secrets, that is really often not the case. Many times, the sole practical effect of a non-compete is the radical curtailing of an individual's right to freely pursue new employment and career options.
Block and many others endorse a clarion call for reform to address the "gross overuse of non-competes."
At Frese, Hansen, we agree, with our attorneys knowing first-hand the starkly negative effects that a non-compete can yield for a business professional merely seeking to practice his or her skills in a new environment and exploit next-step opportunities.
Businesses in Florida and elsewhere of course have the right to legally protect their intellectual property and proprietary data and processes.
In reciprocal fashion, though, employees have a concomitant right to pursue a livelihood without extraneously imposed punitive exactions. Our attorneys, collectively commanding many decades of on-point legal acumen and strong client advocacy, help them exercise that prerogative.