Massachusetts bill would force employers to pay half-salary to laid off employees for duration of noncompetes

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In California noncompetes are unenforceable for some time now. Once in a blue moon one makes the News, but nothing comes of it.


Having to pay half-salary would be a nice measure to get companies to say, “Er, never mind about that non-compete!” Non-competes are total bullshit. I was recently reading about some company trying to enforce their non-compete by demanding a sum of money that may have been in excess of all the profits of the company the former worker ending up leading, which was ridiculous enough, but made even more egregious by the fact that if he had kept to the non-compete, it basically would have prevented him from doing any skilled work at all because his skill-set was only applicable to the industry the non-compete prevented him from working within. In that situation, half-salary wouldn’t have helped much.


I had a noncompete. Didn’t really worry about it. In the state I lived, one had to receive financial consideration for signing one, and I certainly wasn’t receiving enough to be any kind of consideration. I was doing the .com thing before there really was a .com thing. I was the sole programmer (and support, and installer, and backup operator, and …), and my boss thought he knew everything. Except for how to program. And neither did he understand how the programs worked. They worked, and that was all he cared about.

When I gave my resignation, I was told that I was going to be sued. To my face. I laughed. I told him he had better talk to his lawyer first. He did, and then had me doing stupid stuff for the rest of the time I had to be there.

Then, after a year, he wants me to do this, and that, and the other thing. I told him my hourly rate, which, considering, was too low, it should have been higher. He complained that if I wasn’t charging so much, he could really keep my busy. I didn’t say anything, but my thought was “I’m really busy enough as it is, and you’re complaining that I’m making what little money I’m making from your BS?” Then Y2K hit, and he was complaining that the software wasn’t working. The system did zero data arithmetic. Yeah, the year was a two digit field, but no reports were actually generated that compared year to year. He would have had to run the system to 2080s before there would have been a problem.

And as far as I’m concerned, I think people should get half their salary anytime they quit a job with a noncompete, even if the new job pays more than the old. If you’re that serious about it…

Wait. I know pro sports uses it for coaches n contract, but that’s because they continue pay them a salary. You’re speaking about just plain can’t-quit-your-job-and-work-for-a-competitor, correct?

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There are a very few instances where someone might be in a position to take sensitive information with them to a competitor (someone whose primary responsibility was programming proprietary code, for example). Most garden-variety noncompete clauses are BS. Unless you have spent years as a deep-cover mole just to take the precious contents of your brain elsewhere, their sole purpose is to keep you from working anything but fast food until your skill set has gone completely stale.

Yes, but I myself had an employer hold my last check due to my not signing the “noncompete”. The Cal State Labor Board found in my favor, plus a healthy fine was levied on them. As too more complex situations, I would venture a guess that some employers will try anything to protect their bottom line.


Good for you!


Also always remember that what is written on paper is not necessarily enforceable. Companies write non-compete agreements into contracts that they know are unenforceable or too broad because most people won’t bother to challenge it. If you are considering doing something that might violate your non-compete agreement, run it by a lawyer. This will cost a couple hundred bucks, but is definitely worth it if it gives you a chance to get a better paying job.


The only non-competes I have ever been subject to have a price tag attached. If I wanted my full payout (well above statutory minimum), I theoretically needed to comply. It has always been a good deal, as each time I’ve wanted to breach one, a quick email to the previous company’s corporate council has been met with “thanks for letting us know. No problems and good luck with it”.

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Well…as someone who’s spent some time in public policy here in The Bay State…after many years in the tech sector…I can tell you that the non-compete problem has been the object of ridicule, anger, outrage, and justified demonization by nearly everyone - professionals, VCs, chambers, industry groups, startups, mature second-stage ventures, and lots and lots of employees. Yet, it continues to be a thing. That happens when the biggest tech employer calls the tune with legislators.

Let’s see how this bill fares. Surprisingly clever for Massachusetts poitics…judging by my jaded and typically cynical Bostonian POV. I love it.

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Or a plot point in Silicon Valley.

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Well, that’s different from what @Papasan was discussing. Bighead got a huge bonus payout if he signed a no competition/nondisclosure agreement. He could have decided not to sign it and still walked away with a normal two week’s severance. I think the writers got this one correct.


Just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons; what do people think about a similar clause banning someone who worked for (eg) the FTC from taking up a job with one of the banks they previously oversaw?

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