Proposed Nationwide FTC Ban on Non-Compete Clauses

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a proposed rule (“Rule”) that would effectively impose a nationwide ban on all existing and future non-compete clauses between workers and employers. By way of background, a non-compete clause is a type of restrictive covenant that prevents a worker from working for a competitor or starting a competing business, generally within a certain geographical area and time frame after the worker’s employment ends. The FTC’s position, as stated in the Rule’s overview, is that non-compete clauses prevent workers from leaving jobs, lower competition for workers, and reduce wages. According to the FTC, non-compete clauses also stop new businesses from forming, stifle entrepreneurship, and prevent novel innovation that would take place if workers were able to freely share ideas. On the other hand, proponents of non-compete clauses have historically argued, among other things, that they are necessary to protect an employer’s confidential information, trade secrets, and intellectual property and its often considerable investment in the training and development of  its employees. Non-compete agreements are currently subject to state law. Key components of the proposed Rule include: Providing that it is an “unfair method of competition” for an employer to enter into a non-compete clause with a worker, attempt to do so, or inform a worker they...