It’s not unusual to be asked to sign a noncompete clause if you’re working for a company with trade secrets to guard. But imagine being forced to do so in order to get a job as a hair stylist or camp counselor.
According to an article in The New York Times by Steven Greenhouse, that’s what is happening. He says everyone from event planners and chefs to investment fund managers and yoga instructors are increasingly being required to sign agreements prohibiting them from working for the company’s rivals.
In Massachusetts, he says, concerns over their potential negative impact on the economy led the governor to propose legislation banning them in all but a few circumstances. Greenhouse says that California and North Dakota do ban noncompetes, but states such as Texas and Florida place few limits on them.
On Smooth Transitions, Rob Radcliff says the reason noncompete agreements are cropping up in more industries and occupations is because there is no downside for an employer to insist on them.
“Basically, the employer can use the threat of enforcing the noncompete without having a court ever construe its terms or determine whether it is actually enforceable,” he says.