Reading Scott Kirsner’s Boston Globe article on this Easter Sunday (“Time to get rid of ‘noncompete’ agreements,”) and reflecting on the human toll of these ridiculous and unfair legal instruments.
The piece tells 3 stories of people and businesses negatively impacted by the law, which has already been rendered unenforcible in progressive states like California and New York.
After the outcry from the Boston startup community in support of Governor Patrick’s proposed change to the law, it’s easy to think this is a conflict between the interests of Massachusetts’ venture community and that of its more established businesses. It’s not.
Nor is it about impairing any company’s right to protect their underlying intellectual property (through NDA agreements), or preventing former employees from hiring current ones en masse (protected by non-solicit agreements.) Those protections are actually strengthened by the Governor’s proposed compromise.
This is about improving labor mobility in the Commonwealth in a way that will benefit everyone. It’s about freeing people - people with families and mortgages; people in the already stressful place of a job transition that may or may not have been forced upon them; people trying to grow businesses that bring good jobs to Massachusetts.
Ask yourself this: Should your last employer have the right to restrict who you can work for next? This law is about protecting that right even if they fire you. Trying to pass a law like that today would be a joke. Yet there will be legislators - supported by a handful of backward-thinking big businesses led by EMC - who will fight for it in the coming weeks. Shame on them.
Noncompete agreements are wonderful for employers who want to keep workers from jumping ship — and for lawyers who earn money from the legal wrangling that results when a worker does depart. But they’re bad for Massachusetts workers and the state economy.
I couldn’t agree more.
We need to rise up, and support this change. Take a minute or two to e-mail your state representative right now. Let’s wipe out the unfair leverage a handful of companies are trying to maintain over their own employees, and the unfair advantage California and New York have over businesses trying to grow and create jobs right here in Massachusetts.
It’s time to set the bunnies free. Happy Easter.