OLYMPIA (Feb. 26, 2019) — Today in Washington state, many people are denied the freedom to work in their chosen professions by pernicious “non-competition agreements.” These contracts, often signed by workers as a condition of their hiring, restrict them from finding better jobs in their industry.
SB 5478 and HB 1450 would regulate non-competition covenants in Washington state to ensure they aren’t being used to exploit workers and deny them the opportunities to find better jobs. Both bills have been approved by labor policy committees and are ready for floor votes in the Senate and House.
TAKE A STAND — Please click here to urge your elected representatives to vote YES on SB 5478 and HB 1450.
Originally intended to protect a company’s “investment” in executives or highly paid managers who might unfairly take their knowledge to a rival company, non-competition covenants have proliferated in recent years and are now required of many middle-class and low-wage workers. A New York Times exposé found they were required in professions “from event planners to chefs to investment fund managers to yoga instructors.” Even fast-food employees.
The state of New York had to take the Jimmy John’s sandwich chain to court over its requirement that employees not take jobs for rival fast-food companies. New York’s attorney general said it was “unconscionable (to) limit mobility and opportunity for vulnerable workers and bully them into staying with the threat of being sued.”
Important reforms proposed in SB 5478 and HB 1450 include:
● Setting a wage threshold — twice the state’s Average Annual Wage, or about $124,000 — below which non-competition covenants would be void and unenforceable.
● Barring non-competition covenants for laid-off employees.
● Limiting the duration of non-competition covenants to 18 months.
● If an employer tries to enforce an overly broad noncompete and the court rewrites it, the ex-employee receives a statutory penalty plus his or her attorney fees.
● Protecting the ability of low-wage workers to hold a second job.
Please take a moment to click here and urge your Washington state legislators to vote YES on SB 5478 and HB 1450.