The Federal Trade Commission may have opened a Pandora’s Box right at the beginning of the year by proposing a new rule to ban non-compete clauses in work contracts, arguing these provisions not only harm competition but also hurt workers. The strongly worded proposal calls non-compete clauses an “unfair method” of competition—the debate is on after the FTC opened a public comment period.

“We would suggest that the FTC reconsider an outright ban of non-compete agreements,” said Boston-based Beck Reed & Riden partner Stephen Riden. He and the firm’s other name partner Russell Beck spearheaded the publication of an open letter signed by 59 attorneys underscoring the effectiveness of non-compete agreements to protect trade secrets and “stealing confidential company information” when employees leave their jobs. His firm is also planning to actively weigh in during the FTC’s public comment period.