Comment on the FTC's Non-Compete Clauses Workshop

The FTC is soliciting public comment on non-compete clauses used in employment contracts (here’s some background from Matt Stoller). Because I had some personal experience on the topic, I submitted a public comment:

I recently (fall 2018) declined a job opportunity because of an onerous non-complete.

I work in an industry (WordPress-related products and services) where several large companies have their hands in most lines of business. I applied to work at one of them and received an offer to become a Principal Engineer. However, the non-compete was so broad (“any business in competition with the Company’s business as conducted by the Company at any time during the course of my employment with the Company”) that, if I were fired on day one, I effectively couldn’t do my line of work anymore.

I hired an employment lawyer but the company was unwilling to modify the contract or include any riders. The irony is that the company has a different employment agreement for Californians, which doesn’t include a non-compete in the contract.

Ultimately, non-competes are anti-competitive because there’s a huge power asymmetry that adds a lot of downside risk to employees.

If you have personal experience too, I’d encourage you to submit a comment!

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