By Attorney Edward Jesson
On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) proposed a rule that would, with limited exceptions, bar employers from using non-compete agreement and would further require the rescission of existing non-compete agreements that were in place prior to the implementation of the FTC’s rule.
The FTC’s proposed ban is limited to “pure” non-compete agreements and would likely not apply to customer/employee non-solicitation agreements or others contained in non-employment contracts, such as business sale contracts. It appears as though, from the FTC’s language, that the rule would apply to all employees and all independent contractors.
While the FTC initially intended to make a final decision on the rule at some time in 2023, due to the overwhelming number of comments the agency received during the public comment period (nearly 27,000 comments) it appears as though the FTC will not be making a final decision until sometime in April 2024. Even if the rule is implemented, it is highly likely that the blanket ban on non-compete agreements would be challenged in courts throughout the country.
While North Carolina has not banned non-compete agreements, its courts strongly disfavor non-compete agreements unless they are narrowly tailored and the North Carolina Court system’s treatment of non-competes is constantly evolving. North Carolina’s treatment of non-compete agreements, as well as the FTC’s proposed ban, are both good indicators of how courts throughout the country are trending in their interpretation of such restrictive covenants.
If you think the FTC proposal may affect your business, or you have another non-compete related issue, the attorneys at Jesson & Rains stand ready to assist.
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