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It’s Back: Proposal to Ban Massachusetts Non-Competes (and Related Economic Theories)

Bill Nolan

William A. Nolan

Columbus Managing Partner

I have written here before about efforts in Massachusetts to ban non-competes, 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 non-competes, 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 non-competes stifle innovation. It is common for opponents of non-competes 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 non-competes 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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