When will we be free from the cursed NCA (Non-Compete Agreement)? I got sucked into one years ago. When I left the company, I was barred for a year from taking a job with any of the company’s competitors or working in a similar business. It cost me a lot because I was unable to parlay what were then very hot skills into a great salary. I’ve missed out on other good jobs because I said never again will I sign an NCA. I’m reading that the laws are changing but it’s a little here, a little there. Do you think NCAs will ever be banned?
There has certainly been a lot in the news recently about “cursed NCAs.” And that’s good, because very, very few jobs can justify an NCA. The freedom to have a job of your choosing and to earn a living is fundamental. But employers from fast-food joints to software companies and doctors’ offices routinely require employees to sign these nefarious agreements. That’s changing.
Thumb down on the non-compete agreement
California, which often leads the nation in new trends of all kinds, recently made NCAs illegal. That’s one sign of what’s coming. Earlier this year the Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule that would effectively kill NCAs nationally. Shortly after, the National Labor Relations Board issued a legal opinion that NCAs violate the National Labor Relations Act in most circumstances. Now the FTC has joined with the Department of Labor to further protect workers from employers trying to curtail the freedom to work.
My favorite story about the death knell of NCAs is about two podcasters who were sued by their old employer for competing with the company. The Washington Post reports that this case could end NCAs as we know them.
So to answer your question, I think soon you’ll stop getting job offers that include NCAs designed to interfere with your freedom to work anywhere you want.
But we’re not out of the woods yet. Because we don’t know when or if this will actually come to pass, I’ll refer you to some advice about how to avoid the pain of an NCA:
What does your non-compete agreement say?
In the meantime, I’d like to ask everyone:
- Were you forced to sign an NCA in order to get hired?
- Have you had to pass up a good job because you didn’t want to sign an NCA?
- If you have an active NCA, what are the main restrictions and what is the timeline?
- If you’ve ever gotten out of having to sign an NCA, how did you do it?
Let’s compare notes and try to protect your right to work while the FTC, NLRB and Department of Labor finally bury the NCA.