This past summer, Gov. Dannel Malloy quietly vetoed Public Act No. 13-309, “An Act Concerning Employer Use of Non-Compete Agreements.” That act would have made a minor change to noncompete agreement rules in Connecticut. It failed, but continuing legislative efforts to tweak the law underscore its current weaknesses. There are, of course, two broad categories of noncompetition agreements: those arising from the sale of a business and those imposed by an employer to prevent its employees from competing after leaving that workforce. This editorial is concerned with only the second of these. Noncompetition agreements have a valid place in today’s economy, but their growing use to stifle healthy marketplace competition, their theoretical underpinnings as a strained corollary to the employment at-will rule and the disproportionate bargaining strength often used by employers to obtain them have infected these contracts with a taint of inherent unfairness and commercial impropriety. There is a need for reform—reform carried out through the process of common law evolution.
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