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It’s Back: Proposal to Ban Massachusetts Noncompetes (and Related Economic Theories)

Bill Nolan

William A. Nolan

Columbus Managing Partner

I have written here before about efforts in Massachusetts to ban noncompetes, which seem to have been kicking around for years without any real change.  Last week, Massachusetts Governor Patrick announced that he is proposing legislation to largely ban noncompetes, as they are in California.  The theory behind this is that Massachusetts loses tech talent to California, where tech wizards can be employed usually with little concern about being bound by a noncompete when they change jobs, and that noncompetes stifle innovation.  It is common for opponents of noncompetes to make these arguments and sometimes even to suggest there are scientific studies supporting their arguments.  I am still waiting for a study that convinces me of anything as to the impact of noncompetes on an economy and/or human behavior. In the meantime, employers who could conceivably be “competed with” from Massachusetts – remember it is not just where you are located or what law you specify in your contracts – should keep an eye on this legislation, though recent history would suggest major changes are unlikely.


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