Category Archives: Legislation

MA Legislative Session Ends Without Noncompete Compromise

The Massachusetts legislature ended its 2015-16 session last night without reaching a compromise on a bill to significantly reform the law of non-competition agreements in the Commonwealth. Negotiations continued late into the waning hours of the session, but legislators could not resolve the significant differences between the competing reform visions represented by the House and Senate bills.  Early reports indicate that the final disagreement was focused on the garden leave requirement,… More

MA Senate Passes Stringent Noncompete Bill

As expected, the Massachusetts Senate last night passed comprehensive legislation on non-competition agreements that imposes significantly more stringent requirements and limitations on noncompetes than is present in the legislation passed by the House two weeks ago (which already would significantly alter current law).  The bill passed by the full Senate differs only slightly from the the proposal advanced by the Rules Committee earlier this week and described in this post.  … More

MA Senate’s Proposed Noncompete Bill is MUCH More Stringent Than House Bill

The Massachusetts Senate’s Committee on Rules is advancing legislation on noncompetes that differs markedly from the bill passed by the House and described here last week.  (Thank you to Brad MacDougall of AIM for bringing this to my attention.)  The bill, S.2418, is structured similarly to the House bill, but has the following significant differences:

  • Noncompetes generally would be limited to 3 months in duration,…
  • More

MA House Passes Significant Noncompete Reform Bill

On June 29, 2016, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a comprehensive noncompete reform bill by a vote of 149-0.  Given that the Senate last year passed a somewhat similar bill (but the legislation stalled on the House side), it seems quite likely that a new noncompete law will be passed by the legislature before the close of the current session on July 31.  Whether the Governor will sign it is uncertain.  … More

Noncompete Reform Finally May Be Coming to Massachusetts

2000px-Seal_of_the_House_of_Representatives_of_Massachusetts.svg_-300x300After falling off the radar recently, it appears that non-compete reform is back on the agenda on Beacon Hill.  As reported by the Boston Globe, in a March 2, 2016 speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo voiced support for placing restrictions on non-competition agreements.  Among the measures advanced by DeLeo were: (1) limiting the duration of non-competes to 1 year;… More

Update on Noncompete Legislation

Here is an update on new developments in the few weeks since Governor Patrick introduced legislation that would largely abolish employment-based noncompetes in Massachusetts (described here).

As summarized by Russ Beck here, the MA legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development has favorably reported out a previously-filed bill very similar to Gov. Patrick’s legislation banning noncompetes.  Interesting, Governor Patrick’s bill is being considered by a different committee,… More

Update on Noncompete Legislation in Massachusetts

Earlier this month, the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development of the Massachusetts state legislature held a hearing during which it discussed a proposal to limit the enforcement of noncompetes.  The bill, in both its House and Senate versions, provides, with certain exceptions relating to acts by the employee, a presumption that noncompetes for no longer than six months are reasonable (and enforceable), but noncompetes that are longer than six months are presumed to be unreasonable (and not enforceable to the extent they last longer than six months). … More

More on “Material Change” and Legislative Update

The “material change” defense is clearly the issue du jour in the world of Massachusetts noncompete law.  This week the Boston Business Journal devoted  a front page piece largely to this topic, under the headline that noncompetes are “getting harder to enforce.”   Earlier this month, my colleague and fellow blogger, Brian Bialas, expanded on the topic (among others) in analyzing a particularly interesting recent court decision in the Massachusetts Lawyers Journal.   … More

Litigation Over Noncompete Clauses Is Rising

            A Wall Street Journal article published yesterday states that litigation over employee noncompetes has risen by more than 60% in the past decade, and this increase is affecting entrepreneurs who are unable to leave their current jobs to start new businesses or hire employees.  This generally is the argument in favor of reform legislation, such as what has been proposed in Massachusetts, to limit or even eliminate noncompetes,… More

Noncompete Symposium and Update on Legislation

Earlier this week, I participated in the Boston Bar Association’s Fifth Annual Symposium on Employee Non-Compete Agreements, Trade Secrets and Job Creation.  The panelists included Senator Will Brownsberger and Representative Lori Ehrlich, the sponsors of the currently pending bill that would focus noncompete reform efforts on limiting the duration of noncompetes.  More information about that proposal can be found here and here.  The panel also included Russell Beck,… More

2013 Noncompete Reform Effort Will Focus on Durational Limits

The Massachusetts legislature has begun a new, two-year session, and with it comes a pared-down approach to reforming the law of noncompetition agreements in the Commonwealth.  The two principal sponsors of past reform legislation, Senator (previously Rep.) Will Brownsberger and Rep. Lori Erhlich, explained in a recent Boston Business Journal piece that they are introducing a new bill intended to address objections from smaller businesses about attorney’s fees shifting provisions in the previous bill. … More

The Status of Noncompete Reform in Massachusetts

Yesterday, I attended a panel presentation at the Boston Bar Association on the status of noncompete legislative reform in Massachusetts. As Michael Rosen has discussed in numerous prior posts on this blog, recently there has been a push to limit noncompetes in order to increase employee mobility and productivity, led by state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) and state Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont). The presentation was designed to update the legal community on the movement.… More

Legislative Update: Renewed Push for MA Noncompete Bill

As the Massachusetts legislative session comes to a close on July 31, there has been a renewed push for a bill that would “reform” current Massachusetts common law by placing various procedural and substantive restrictions on employee noncompetition agreements.  (Discussion of the proposed legislation and ongoing debate can be found here and here and multiple earlier posts.)  One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. William Brownsberger, reports on his website that proponents of the bill are “hoping at this stage …to get the legislation added in to some other package…”   … More

Will Massachusetts Adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act?

At my last Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) Civil Litigation Section meeting, I learned about a bill to adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) that has been floating around the Massachusetts Legislature since late January. Forms of the UTSA have been adopted in 46 states in addition to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Only New York, Texas, North Carolina, and Massachusetts have not adopted it.… More

Text of the New Noncompete Bill

Many thanks to Brad MacDougall of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) for sending along the text of the revised noncompete bill, which was filed last week.  The new bill is here.  As David Frank of Mass. Lawyers Weekly mentioned in his recent blog post and Lawyers Weekly reported last October, AIM had exerted pressure to block passage of the bill in 2010. 

Stay tuned for information about when the bill will be considered in committee.… More

MA Noncompete Bill Has Been Re-filed

As confirmed here, a bill to reform the law of noncompetition agreements in Massachusetts, which died in the 2010 legislative session, was re-filed on January 19, 2011.  Rep. Will Brownsberger, one of the sponsors of the compromise legislation in 2010, stated on his website prior to the re-filing that it would "look like the last generation of the bill that came out of committee with a few additional changes that reflect input we have been getting."   … More

MA Noncompete Legislation is Dead … At Least for Now

The effort to substantially alter the landscape for noncompete agreements in Massachusetts via legislation has stalled. After advancing out of committee in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, the compromise legislation (described here) was included in an economic development bill with many other provisions and proposed amendments relating to business issues in the Commonwealth. As has been reported here on the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) blog,… More

Noncompete Legislation Takes a Step Toward Passage

As reported here on the website of Rep. William Brownsberger:

legislation to revise the law of non-competition agreements in Massachusetts took a step forward this week. The Committee on Labor and Human Resources reported out a bill with a favorable recommendation.  Here is the new draft.  It is essentially the bill that Representatives Ehrlich and Brownsberger worked out [with] representatives of many interest groups, but we have not yet had the opportunity to study the language carefully.… More

Upcoming Hearing and Revised Legislation

The next round in the ongoing debate about noncompetes in Massachusetts has arrived.  As described here, a public hearing on various forms of pending noncompete legislation will take place before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development on October 7, between 10:30 am and 1:00 pm.  The location is Room A-2 of the State House.  The public is invited to attend and testify.

Earlier this week,… More

Information on Noncompete Debate

For those who have been following this blog’s discussion of the ongoing debate about noncompetes in Massachusetts and recently introduced legislation seeking to prohibit such restrictions, this site is a useful resource on the subject.  Thanks to Caroline Huang for bringing it to my attention.  It contains the text of proposed legislation and background information on noncompetition agreements in Massachusetts.  The site was created by Ms. Huang in consultation with Rep. Will Brownsberger,… More

Bill to Abolish Non-Competes in Massachusetts is Filed

As expected (and first discussed here), Massachusetts Rep. Will Brownsberger has introduced a bill that would abolish the use of noncompete agreements in Massachusetts, at least in the employment and independent contractor contexts.  Here is the text of the proposed law:

AN ACT TO PROHIBIT RESTRICTIVE EMPLOYMENT COVENANTS

Section 1. Section 19 of Chapter 149 of the General Laws of Massachusetts is hereby amended by inserting at the end the following new paragraphs:

Any written or oral contract or agreement arising out of an employment relationship that prohibits,… More

Bill to Abolish MA Noncompetes Imminent

Thanks to Wade Roush for bringing to my attention his article posted yesterday in Xconomy, a very informative web publication focused on the tech sectors in Boston and on the west coast.  As with this blog, Xconomy has been closely following what I have described as the Massachusetts noncompete "debate" over the past year or so.  (Scroll down to see earlier posts on this subject.) Wade reports that a Massachusetts legislator,… More

Massachusetts Legislature Adds to Short List of Prohibited Non-competes

I would not be the first to observe that the Massachusetts legislature sometimes acts in strange and mysterious ways. It has been known to surprise even those of us who think we are paying attention to such things with unexpected employment-related legislation. The very significant amendment in 2004 to the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law (.pdf) is a good example of this phenomenon: although it has wide-ranging application and has vexed employment lawyers and the business community since its passage,… More