BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a ban on noncompete agreements. Those are the clauses in employment contracts that bar an employee from working for a competitor, sometimes for several years...
...Last month, James Mitchell gave his two weeks notice. The 32-year-old told the Boston Web marketing company he worked for he was leaving to join a startup. And he was sure that he was not violating the noncompete clause in his contract.
“I have a list of 37 companies that I’m not to go work for,” he said. “The company I chose wasn’t on it. My actual boss who I resigned to hadn’t even heard of the company I was going to. And then all of a sudden in the legal documents I got it became a competitor.”
Mitchell’s first day at his new company, set for last week, never came to be. His previous employer decided to enforce his noncompete agreement. Mitchell said he can fight his work ban in court, but it could cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months, if not years...
...Colette Buser, 19, has worked for the last three summers at LINX, a camp for kids in the Boston suburbs. Buser said the part-time job paid minimum wage, and this summer, she wanted to work for another camp. But LINX evoked her one-year noncompete agreement. The head of the company told The Boston Herald the techniques and training are proprietary.That's a really crummy thing for a summer camp to do... "You will never teach the other kids our secret camp song with its proprietary clapping rhythm!"
It sounds like (according to this very similar New York Times article) that non-compete agreements may be becoming more common. This Wall Street Journal article from 2013 mentions more lawsuits stemming from them (up 60% over the last decade.)
We've talked about this issue before and no one has ever raised the issue -- are there non-compete agreements in academia*? If so, how long are they? Also, have they ever been enforced, or tested in the courts? (How would you even define a competitor -- in the case of a university, wouldn't it be any other university?) Readers, what do you think?
*A brief Google search seems to indicate that there are often non-compete agreements between university hospital systems and their clinical faculty. This article by a Virginia lawyer seems to say that one Virginia university (Old Dominion) doesn't have them with their faculty.