Competing non-competes

Tomorrow the Legislature's Committee on Labor and Workforce Development holds a hearing on two bills that, depending on whom you ask, could either invigorate or eviscerate the state's high-tech industry. Both take aim at "non-compete agreements," which prevent a worker leaving one company from working for the competition. The agreements (often called restrictive covenants) are unenforceable in California, and in this summer's CommonWealth, I explored what a similar policy might mean for Massachusetts.

One of the two bills would make our law much more like California's, where an employer can ask people to sign the agreements but the courts are ordered not to enforce them.  The other (a likely nod to companies concerned about top executives stealing trade secrets) prohibits the covenants only for employees making less than $100,000.