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Too Many Workers Are Trapped by Non-Competes (bloomberg.com)
348 points by paulpauper 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 206 comments

I've always refused to sign any contract with a non-compete. In every case, the employer has removed or voided it. The only exceptions were jobs in Chicago, and I walked away from two different jobs because they couldn't change their contract.

I often don't even bring it up during the interview, until I get an offer. At that point if they're not willing to negotiate my basic rights as a worker, it's not a company I want to work for and I'm glad I've wasted their time.

Always demand to see the offer letter/agreement first before you accept, and don't be afraid to walk away if it contains a non-compete. They've screwed over at least two friends of mine and they're totally not worth it. I've written about my experiences with non-competes before:


I have the opposite experience. I refused to sign non-competes for all past offers that included them, and in all cases the potential employer then walked away. That happened after lengthy interview processes that lasted multiple days and cost the employer many thousands of dollars.

Gives you an idea how important these non-competes are to them.

I should mention these were big, powerful employers. You might be able to negotiate them with small employers who suffer from lack of candidates.

The larger the employer, the more bureacracy is involved in the hiring process. Any non-conformance to the standardized process comes with a risk of complete process failure once a corporation reaches a certain size and begins to silo off certain functional groups. I've found myself in many situations where a customer or employee requested something perfectly reasonable to settle a dispute, only for me to find there is literally no way to resolve the issue as there is no mechanism with which to do so or the individual who can move the levers is seperated by so many layers of management/org chart spaghetti that no one has a clue who to reach out to. There's always the hope that someone close to the process is willing to put their neck on the line and break procedure in a way that risks reprimand or their career but that's a fleeting chance more often than not.

While this may all be true, the upshot is that as individual employees, we have zero leverage or bargaining power against these large employers.

Even now, with the great shortage of tech talent - while is repeatedly used as a justification to import an unlimited number of foreign workers - these very same large employers who complain about this shortage, do not hesitate to reject a qualified candidate who will not sign away their right to work with a "non compete".

> we have zero leverage or bargaining power against these large employers.

You have the leverage not to work there. They have the leverage not to hire you. If enough people choose to work there despite things they don’t like, your leverage is not lost because of the company being large, it’s lost because people choose to work there despite things you don’t like.

Companies compete for employees.

Have you read the article?

In many areas where non-competes are legal, all employers slap them on their contracts.

So your choice is to sign one, or remain unemployed.

Also, most employees aren't fully aware of what these non-competes mean anyway.

>Have you read the article?


> In many areas where non-competes are legal, all employers slap them on their contracts.

As others have pointed out, it's not uncommon to get them (and other clauses) struck out of employment agreements during hiring. I've struck that one from all places I've worked, I've struck all patent and IP claims out that were broad enough to cover things I do outside of work, I've gotten copyrights assigned to me instead of the employer, and so on, even very early in my career.

>So your choice is to sign one, or remain unemployed.

If it's that onerous, sign one to get a job, and while getting paid, immediately look for a new job that doesn't violate it without one. Not a single state has one so broad as to prevent you from any reasonable work. Problem solved.

Employment is always a negotiation. If you enter thinking you have zero leverage and are unable or unwilling to find other work, then you do have zero leverage.

> As others have pointed out, it's not uncommon to get them (and other clauses) struck out of employment agreements during hiring. I've struck that one from all places I've worked, I've struck all patent and IP claims out that were broad enough to cover things I do outside of work, I've gotten copyrights assigned to me instead of the employer, and so on, even very early in my career.

I'll be polite and not accuse you of fabricating. Your experience is extremely, curiously atypical. I know from experience that these clauses are mandatory for several large employers. They are not waived for anyone. If you google, you'll find examples of senior vice presidents being sued for them.

The only way you can have them waived is if you negotiate with small employers who are starved for talent, and even then it won't be easy to do as a junior.

In fact I'm skeptical you even knew what a non-compete was as a recent grad.

> If it's that onerous, sign one to get a job, and while getting paid, immediately look for a new job that doesn't violate it without one.

So your solution is to act unethically, accept a permanent position just to get a paycheck while looking for a new job?

My impression of this comment is sinking by the sentence.

Reality check: if everyone in your area requires a non-compete, and you couldn't get a NC-free offer months, why would you get one now, when you're looking to leave a job you literally just accepted?

To potential employers, you now look worse than before.

> Employment is always a negotiation. If you enter thinking you have zero leverage and are unable or unwilling to find other work, then you do have zero leverage.


"I like to make boastful absolutist claims because I have very little actual experience in the job market."

I hate non-competes, non-disparagement,and IP assignment clauses. I've had two (smaller) companies that had them in their offer letter and in both cases I've had the non-competes and non-disparagements removed. I'm not sure I'd have as much luck with a larger company, however it definitely does happen on occasion.

First time was as a new grad. The non-compete literally prevented me from working within 200 miles of my home in the same industry. I noped out. Even when they removed it I wasn't interested because that's shady.

Second time was at a different company. I just let them know I wasn't comfortable giving up my 1st amendment rights just to work somewhere and they considered it and let me take it out. My HR person was awesome and the company treated it's employees well.

Not disputing your other points, just want people to know they should at the very least make sure to ask. It may end up with a no, but it could end up turning out alright.

>I'll be polite and not accuse you of fabricating.

Then why mention it? So you can say you mentioned it? You can look up my name - I've written a decent amount of material for pay, some of which is also on my website, precisely because I requested the copyrights. You can look over my employment and side project history to see I have gotten the ability to both work on commercial stuff at work and off work.

Instead of implying someone is lying with passive aggressive nonsense, simply do some legwork.

>In fact I'm skeptical you even knew what a non-compete was as a recent grad.

You seem to make a lot of claims about me. Maybe your experience is not what everyone has seen? I learned well before leaving undergrad that you can edit legal documents before signing them, and if they countersign, then they agreed to your document. If they don't like it, then you negotiate.

This I thought was common knowledge.

>Your experience is extremely, curiously atypical.

There's a lot of similar claims on this page.

>for several large employers

I've stayed away from them for the most part, since they're more inflexible, and for good reason: dealing with lots of employees is much easier with uniform rules.

>So your solution is to act unethically This was opposed to simply breaking contracts or go unemployed. And a job is a business agreement - you work there as long as it suits you, they employ you as long as it suits them. If they're doing something you find so onerous, it's not unreasonable to find a new job.

>"I like to make boastful absolutist claims because I have very little actual experience in the job market."

You may want to look up my name. It's astounding you make so many claims about me without knowing me. What this shows, more than anything, is that you believe your own views, correct or not, over simply looking to check if something is true.

I apologize if I came across as overly harsh. I did look up your resume, and it does confirm my assertions. In fact, you are not directly contradicting any of them.

I made three assertions:

1. You will not be able to negotiate away non-compete clauses with large, powerful employers.

2. You may be able to negotiate them as a senior candidate for smaller companies.

3. Junior candidates will find it hard to negotiate their offers, including waiver of non-competes.

You agreed with my 1st assertion.

Your resume shows you to be a perfect example of the 2nd assertion. You are a senior engineer, an expert in his field, who worked in very senior technical roles in a series of small and very small companies. As such, you were in the best possible position to negotiate.

You seemed to dispute my 3rd assertion with your claim that you were able to negotiate non-competes away "early in your career", but your resume shows you took a Lead Programmer position in your very first year of full-time work. So you were never really a junior - you were a senior engineer working for small operations since the earliest stage of your career.

This is great for you, congratulations. It doesn't change the fact that your situation is unique, and doesn't generally apply. Not to most engineers, and certainly not to fast-food and similar unskilled workers mentioned in the article. These are people who don't have much money, really need the job, and often have limited choices in their area. They don't have the money to relocate, nor do they have leverage to negotiate.

So while I applaud you for being in the favorable position to negotiate away clauses since your first year of employment, I still caution against concluding that this is how it works for everyone else as well.

>Your experience is extremely, curiously atypical.

The majority of programmers don't work for large companies. Many of the biggest employers employ in California, further skewing the data towards programmers not having to worry. About half of all states don't even have non-compete laws for programmers.

As such, I suspect your losing jobs by refusing to sign them is the atypical experience, not mine.

>Your resume shows you to be a perfect example of the 2nd assertion. You are a senior engineer....

I was once junior, with the same results...

>but your resume shows you took a Lead Programmer position in your very first year of full-time work.

Yep, negotiation, not experience, which is exactly my point. And I didn't take any job thrown at me, I worked carefully to move to a situation I wanted to be in. One can move themselves up career ranks much faster by learning how to sell themselves and to take risks, than by trying to follow the company playbook.

If you do what most people do, you will get the outcome most people get. To do differently, make consistent, concentrated effort to do things differently in the proper manner and time.

I've found more developers over my career are not advancing to where they want or getting what they want through lack of learning how to deal with negotiation. They too often think the rules are fixed and rewards a solely a function of their technical skill, both of which are false.

I've taught many interns at companies I've been at how to negotiate better, and many of them were able to get significant contract changes made on their very first job.

I've also have many developers ask how to move up/over, and when I recommend they take on new or harder projects as they're presented, those programmers shy away from the unknown to do what they know. Those types, fear of risk, don't move as fast or as far. I don't begrudge them, they prefer safety, but when they complain later in their career that they didn't go as far as someone that did do scary, out of comfort things, it's mostly their own choices.

>I still caution against concluding that this is how it works for everyone else as well.

I never thought it works this way for everyone, but in many cases, it's not the systems fault; it's the employees fault for not working the process smarter, and for not developing skills useful for dealing with people as much as they develop their technical skills.

Interviews are a sales process. Learning to sell is a very useful skill, at every level. I find few developers that have learned this and do it well.

I walked away from a non-compete in Edinburgh, Scotland (startup). I'm not familiar with the law, but I suspect both parties rights had statutory protections anyway, and the clause wasn't legal, but the company was insistant that I sign the contract, even to the point of having lawyers call and explain them to me.

As a contractor it's not that uncommon to be presented contracts with clauses that fail disguised employment regulations. Usually with some negotiation I can get these changed, but on one occasion I recieved a lucrative offer from an intermediary that refused to change the offer. I ended up working for the same client (bank) via another intermediary.

Personally, I refuse to sign bullshit clauses, but many of these companies do refuse to budge, and I imagine it's much harder for junior people to leave the money on the table.

> I'm glad I've wasted their time

That's an odd attitude. You've also wasted your own time, yes?

I can see how it's problematic to bring it up ahead of time. "By the way, I won't sign a non-compete." Immediately the company is on alert: you plan to quit after learning their secrets and go to a competitor? It's like drug testing: obviously a violation of your rights, but why would I hire this one guy who refuses to take it?

The only real solution is legislative. For you to die on that hill repeatedly means the companies are still just as profitable, and you're unemployed.

> but why would I hire this one guy who refuses to take it?

Am I the only one who finds this asymmetry bizarre? Shell I ask the hiring manger to take a drug test? And why would I work for him if he refuses?

I did something similar in an interview because things had already gone south. I asked to see code from the hiring company, because I didn't want to work on a poor codebase. It didn't go over well, lol.

This is actually a great idea. I've never had to take a drug test but I'll remember to mention it if it ever pops up.

I disagree. If he has said this in the beginning it would have probably been the end of the process immediately.

Yes, he wasted his own time, but also got XP out of it. And now the company invested already resources on him and may probably think it’s the worth the risk.

Very odd.. an individual’s time is way more valuable than a company’s time... companies waste time like it grows on trees.

> I'm glad I've wasted their time

That's an odd attitude. You've also wasted your own time, yes?

Wait, there's another approach.

Sign the non-compete, and let them sue you, if they even notice that is, after you're in the new place. I had a boss that did this (which I saw happen live) nonchalantly. And managers are worth going after more than individual contributors in many cases. In the most recent case they went after him and New Company's lawyers came to the rescue. For those readers not in the US, those of us commenting from within the US have different laws in different states. In New York State, the judges typically respect non-competes for one year (even if it says 1000 years in the contract).

One employer of mine tied stock options to the non-compete, in a totally separate document from the offer letter. There has to be something material, otherwise, what are they going to do, beat you up? A restraining order so you can't go to New Company?

I don’t recommend doing this.

To begin at the end, the standard legal remedy for violating a non compete is to enjoin you from working for your new employer. So then you are out of a job.

Yes, you can tell your new employer (in the hiring negotiation) that you have a noncompete, and tell them to clean up the mess for you. They’ll often do it, if you are valuable enough. For large employers, the common strategy is to negotiate down the time, and then stash you in an unrelated part of the business until that time is up. In the worst case, you go on “garden leave”, meaning you get paid to go home and work in your garden. You get the picture that they are not going to do this for a junior coder, it’s going to be for a senior leader or principal engineer.

This is terrible advice. Signing a contract you then willfully violate may cost you significant time and money, and if I found out this is how you operate, I’d never hire you. I suspect many other employers wouldn’t either.

Simply don’t sign such a contract.

found out this is how you operate, I’d never hire you.

You wouldn't find out until I found a new job someplace else, right? And at that point, why would I lose sleep over how incensed you supposedly would be, here, hypothetically?

Worked great for my ex boss. What do you recommend, a person stays unemployed forever because they refuse to sign these unprincipled agreements? Did you read the Bloomberg article?

We're not all Richard Stallman. Some of us have mortgages and obligations. Let's hope more states follow California.

>What do you recommend, a person stays unemployed forever because they refuse to sign these unprincipled agreements?

You don't need to be that dramatic about the non-compete. What you do is you ask HR via e-mail whether the non-compete is negotiable or a mandatory requirement for employment. If it is mandatory, then you have written proof that the non-compete is a contract of adhesion, so you simply need to budget for a lawyer to sue to nullify it on termination. If it is negotiable, then you don't sign the non-compete, or sign a non-compete clause that actually compensates you at full or partial salary for the time spent not competing.

>why would I lose sleep over how incensed you supposedly would be

I'm not incensed; I'm pointing out this attitude and commentary is likely a negative to your getting hired if employers discover it.

>You wouldn't find out until I found a new job someplace else, right?

Unless some previous employer mentioned it, or a google or background found it (or this comment).

It's pretty common to run all potential hires through a background check service, especially as the value of the hire increases. I know places I've done hiring has not hired people based on their past discoverable behavior.

Part of every formal job application process that I've completed is to disclose any applicable non-competes. All of those companies will not risk violating a non-compete due to the substantial legal risk, placing the employee in another area, or more likely, declining to hire.

This is largely irrelevant for employees in California, due to its commerce and tort law rendering non-compete clauses unenforceable for employment. In the past few years, however, we have seen companies suing past employees for alleged theft of trade secrets. This chilling effect could end up having the same outcome as an enforceable non-compete.

Part of every formal job application process that I've completed is to disclose any applicable non-competes. All of those companies will not risk violating a non-compete due to the substantial legal risk, placing the employee in another area, or more likely, declining to hire.

I haven't seen this yet in NY, although I have been contracting for several years.

In the case of my ex-boss, he told New Company right away as he was being hired, and they had already the legal setup to watch his back. Lawyers came after New Company, and then eventually it went quiet.

> That's an odd attitude. You've also wasted your own time, yes?

Dodging a bullet is not wasting time. In fact, not signing a noncompete implies that the employee will not be forced to wait out an unspecified period before he is authorized to accept a job offer. Thus, refusing to sign a noncompete not only saves time but also improves their chances to have access to better job opportunities.

Was going to say the time wasted interviewing pales in comparison to the time wasted if the non-compete becomes an issue legally.

Are you a senior developer or architect? I can't imagine an employer would humor this with a new recruit or junior developer. A lot of larger employers also have rigid processes for onboarding new people and modifying contracts isn't always something they're willing to do.

I'm a senior engineer, and as I said, I was never able to bargain away a single non-compete clause.

Even with a smaller employer, you will need some bargaining power.

I was a mid-tier engineer and was able to bargain them away because I was often recruited based on my open source contributions and community work. It's a pretty easy sell to say: "You found out about me because of this work, and it's going to continue, or you're going to pay X for me to stop it for Y years."

What does "open source contributions" and "community work" have to do with non-compete clauses?

Non-competes prevent you from working for your employer's commercial competitors. I.E. if you leave Uber, you can't go work for Lyft.

Also, it's naive to assume you can just "sell" an employer on a contractual change that goes against their goals.

Saying "I'm a software engineer, and I plan to continue being a software engineer after we part ways, instead of waiting tables" also sounds like a strong "sell", but it does not work based on my experience.

It's not about convincing anyone, it's about power and who has it.

Pardon the nerd-sniping: both Uber and Lyft employees in California can job hop, because non-competes are unenforceable for employment (in general) in California.

Otherwise your comment explains it well.

> It's not about convincing anyone, it's about power and who has it.

Yes, you have to be good at your job and hard to replace before you make demands. That part should be obvious. At any rate, I've had plenty of success striking all non-compete agreements before starting my own business permanently. Just be good enough and hard to replace.

Respectfully, your comment makes no sense.

> Yes, you have to be good at your job and hard to replace before you make demands.

You are required to sign a non-compete before accepting the job. You cannot be "hard to replace" because you haven't started that job yet.

They won't even "replace" you - they just won't hire you!

> At any rate, I've had plenty of success striking all non-compete agreements

As I mentioned elsewhere, this is possible if you are a very strong senior candidate negotiating with relatively small employers who are desperate to hire you and don't have many alternative candidates.

At larger corporations, I've been told straight up that the non-competes are policy and won't be waived for anyone.

If you check the history of non-compete lawsuits, you'll find some very senior employees being sued, so this statements seem true.

Were they trading companies in chi? Worked with them in the past and that industry is ruthless in abiding their noncompetes because there’s enough people who want in the industry.

OTOH from what I've heard trading companies tend to put you on a well-paid gardening leave for the duration of the non-compete.

That's somewhat reasonable, unlike the "we'll fire you, good luck finding any new employment to pay your bills" kind of non-compete.

No actually. One was document management and the other health/wellness. Here's some of my own observations of tech culture in different regions:


Interesting, I've only had one interview as long as you describe in Chicago.

I am not sure if there are fewer great engineers in Chicago; I have certainly met lots of people who were as good as anyone I've met in SV and that I've learned a lot from. I think it might be that (Midwestern sensibility and all) they aren't chasing the latest shiny thing as much, and often work in some more boring business domain, getting things done rather than "changing the world".

It’s a state by state thing, They are effectively unenforceable in Colorado for most workers but they are still a fairly standard piece of boilerplate. They really don’t need to be to make most workers’ lives difficult, just the threat of a law suit might be enough to encourage someone to change jobs

Try with FAANG, see how it works...

Banning noncompete agreements is something California has been doing right since 1872 when they were first banned.

Another thing California does right is refusing to honor noncompete agreements from other states.

And I'd argue that this is one of the biggest reasons why the area was able to evolve from a couple of semiconductor companies into the world's most valuable business ecosystem.

Most other states are too beholden to a few big companies and don't see how following suit will only help them over the long term.

Pure anecdote in support of your argument, from the top of my head, but you have to wonder how things would have gone if Shockley's traitorous eight could never have come into existence due to non-competes.

No Fairchild? No FairChildren?

Basically, no Silicon Valley.

According to an Endeavor Insight report: in 2014 of the more than 130 Bay Area tech companies trading on the NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange, “70 percent of these firms can be traced directly back to the founders and employees of Fairchild. The 92 public companies that can be traced to Fairchild are now worth about $2.1 trillion, which is more than the annual GDP of Canada, India, or Spain.”

Your point is a good one which I fully support, but the comparison of company value to GDP which you quote bugs me. Company value is a stock, while GDP is a flow. Comparing them is like comparing velocity and acceleration.

>you have to wonder how things would have gone if Shockley's traitorous eight could never have come into existence due to non-competes

You also have to wonder how litigious the society was at the time; the legal framework and protection available was probably not mature enough in a industry going through renaissance. However, it is certainly different today and the poignancy is encapsulated in this quote by Tom Gallo: When you get sued by a big corporation, you lose no matter what


There's research that credits the fact that SV is in California and not, for example, near Cambridge MA, to the fact that non-competes aren't enforceable in California.

I've also heard a theory from a friend that one reason SV companies develop new technology so quickly is because the free movement of employees between companies is essentially the de facto transfer of technology between companies.

Of course things like trade secrets won't be transferred, but the general skills, ideas and know-how can quickly spread from company to company. In contrast, in regions with non-competes, companies are effectively more siloed.

Of course. It also encourages competition, especially from new startups.

Imagine Facebook had to wait for a couple of years to be able to hire any senior engineers with the knowledge and skills to scale their services.

They would lose momentum, and quite possibly fail as their service would be constrained by severe scaling and reliability issues.

The reason Facebook and other unicorns were able to thrive in SV is because they were able to poach dozens of experienced engineers from other companies, that are all arguably its competitors.

If you like startups, non-competes are some of your worst enemies.

Didn't some of them (Apple, Intel, Google and more) get busted for agreeing under the counter to not hire each others employees?



Yes, but they did so at a time when none of them could reasonably have been described as startups. GP's point was about startups.

We nailed it...

Also, as a workers rights issue, always ask yourself if the company would do the same for you.

If they ask you to sign a contract saying to give six weeks notice or something silly ask if they would give you six weeks notice of a layoff or termination.

In the case of non-competes you should ask if they don't hire from their competitors too... If they're going to reduce YOUR compensation because of competition from engineers working at other companies it's not a fair claim.

> something silly

1-3 months mutual notice period is common practice in many countries. In France 3 months is standard.

My French contract had 2 months notice and a non compete option for the employer, where they had the option to pay me 75% of the salary for 2 years to enforce the non compete. That kind of non competes I don’t mind.

I would mind it a lot, because when I leave a company I'll be making more than I do now, not 75% of what I do now.

Getting 75% of your salary to do nothing for 2 years is the opportunity of a lifetime - travel the world, get a Masters degree, find a low CoL area and bank 90% of it while contributing to open source projects, the options are endless.

I agree with you, but then you're not choosing. It might not be a right time for you to take a 2 years pause, you might really want to work for this competitor (which is why you're quitting)

Why would they get to choose? The moment they 'make' you sign the non-compete, quit and take your holiday.

Most American engineers don't think that way, because they have house mortgages they have to keep paying on, and Americans are terrible at living within their means so even upper middle class people are living paycheck-to-paycheck (i.e., they bought a house they could only barely afford with their current pay rate, a pay cut would mean they'd be forced to sell or go bankrupt).

> Getting 75% of your salary to do nothing for 2 years is the opportunity of a lifetime

The examples you listed makes me ask this. Imagine your parents, while raising you, given this option of having their pay reduced by 25%. How likely would the options you listed have been an "opportunity of a lifetime" to them?

It could work out really well; they'd have loads more time to spend with their kids, and could take on other part-time/casual non-competing work to make up the difference.

I can imagine plenty of people would accept the option of taking 75% of their salary to spend all/most of their time with their young kids for a couple of years.

After tax, it might not work out to much of a difference anyway, especially after you consider the other incidental expenses relating to work (transport, attire, etc).

Of course, no agreement is going to be 100% perfect in every scenario, but this is way more even-handed than a one-way non-compete with no compensation at all.

Would the non compete cover supermarket checkout work? That might make up the difference.

Are you really saying that 100% of your time is worth 25% of your salary? And that isn't even counting work-related costs.

I have a right to earn a living. I have worked many years preparing to do so in a particular area of trade. There is a market price for my skills. Taking 25% of that away is unfair, is my point. Justifying it by saying "Oh, but you could travel!" is the same level of empathy as saying "Let them eat cake".

You can easily make half of your original salary back by working part-time in a sector not directly related to the one you left. If you're already given 75% of your old salary, you won't even need to be picky. You can learn new skills and work on your hobbies/the rest of your life, while receiving a princely sum for the amount of work you're actually doing. It's only a bad deal if your current sector is all you ever aspire to work in, and I'd posit that's not the case for the majority of people.

You can still work in a company not directly competing with your previous employer and get the compensation.

I just had a quick look (I never had one), non-competes without compensation are illegal in France.

I'm not a lawyer but I don't think you can do that, no

Yes you can. I'm serving a 1 year non-compete and my former employer encourages getting non finance work because they hope you never go back to the industry

What a horrible thing for society. Forcing people to stop doing things they are so good at that employers will pay them not to work with their competitors.

It’s funny, my second biggest expense after the mortgage is my season ticket. I haven’t run the numbers but it’s possible that 75% of my salary without that and the other costs of working might actually break even!

Yeah I ain't agreeing to take a 2 year hole in my employment.

If they're paying you to take garden leave, you're technically still employed by them. By my reckoning, that wouldn't leave a gap.

Another possible explanation: "I took a two-year sabbatical to work on my own projects and improve my skills".

What I care about is the two years of not working, that's long enough to get seriously rusty and having to make up stuff when talking about work experience when interviewing.

One time I got $50k and full salary to stay on with a group that was in run down mode. I wouldn't take that option again.

France also makes it very hard to fire a worker, which means hiring carries more risk. That then leads to one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the Eurozone of around 20%.

The US unemployment rates, both youth and overall, are about half of France rates.

Sticky job movement causes friction in both directions, like most sticky economic variables.

Germany also has strong labor laws and has a youth unemployment rate of about 7.7% with the lowest overall unemployment rate in the EU and second to lowest in the world. Your argument is not valid.

It's not my argument, it OECD economist reports.

Also, Germany laws are not France laws; comparing them is not valid.

Here [1] is a well cited paper showing from theory and empirically that gains in labor do result in unemployment. From the abstract: "Tight hiring and firing rules and military conscription most clearly seem to have adverse effects".

Here's [2] a slightly older one addressing France and Germany in particular, showing what I claimed. France is not Germany; your comparison is invalid.

Here's [3] another heavily cited, more recent paper, that pulls France out in particular. From the abstract: "Heavier regulation of labor is associated with lower labor force participation and higher unemployment, especially of the young."

There's plenty more papers with the same results. Use Google scholar to find them.

You can dislike the results, but ignoring the result and claiming they are not real simply hurts more people through ignoring evidence, thereby avoiding correct solutions to the problems.

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014759670...

[2] https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.11.3.37

[3] https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/119/4/1339/185...

He's not ignoring you, he's just disputing the results of the research as stated. You are claiming better worker protection = higher unemployment. Clearly it has been demonstrated this is not true. What is also not true is the converse; one is not required for the other. You can then of course claim "but it is true, because these studies still say so!" but that doesn't make it an established thing. It is a hypothesis that some people have tested and found to be true. Other people did not. I would say this makes it at best uncertain whether or not it is the case.

>You are claiming better worker protection = higher unemployment.

When normalizing across other variables, this is consistent with the econ literature.

>Clearly it has been demonstrated this is not true.

Cite that it's clearly not true. I don't think it's been clearly shown these have correlation 0 or negative.

>one is not required for the other.

No one has claimed that.

>but that doesn't make it an established thing

Nothing is ever established to the certainty for enough nitpickers. But when the majority of literature of experts leans in one direction, it's safe to bet that their majority opinion is most likely the truth. Sometimes that is overturned, but the majority of expert consensus opinions remain correct.

Do you think that making it hard to fire workers makes it more or less risky on the part of an employer to hire a new worker? If more risky, then how is this offset in hiring?

Employers and markets are not wholly stupid.

In Sweden the notice period is typically the same on both behalfs. If they demand you give 4 month notice, they will also have to do that.

Excellent retort, and it doesn't even go far enough: since a non-compete restrains my full ability to command an income, I would expect financial compensation as part of severance for the length of the non-compete period.

You can still enter into a legally binding non-compete in California resulting from the acquisition of a company or IP.

That seems reasonable if the goal is to not pose an impossible hurdle to any potential acquisitions involving companies with employees in California.

Seems more reasonable than locking employees up as part of hiring

This is true, but they must compensate you for the time you aren't allowed to compete. No such thing here in CA as a free non-compete.

Yeah, the big difference is that they pay for that time, and the time is a known quantity when you make the agreement. The banned non-competes are the ones where they say, “if you decide to leave at any point in the future, you can’t compete with us for x number of years”... but they won’t give you extra money during that time.

Yes, it's "valuable consideration" usually included in the sale price. It doesn't have to come in the form of a monthly payment or a salary.

California has a lot of questionable legislation, but they really did nail this one. It's extremely well thought out and the exceptions where non-competes can be enforced all make perfect sense.

For example, a non-compete is legally binding in California is if you sell your business to someone else. Then they can enforce an agreement against your starting a new business competing against the business you just sold them.

Only if you're one of the executives.

> since 1872

I knew California had banned them but I though it had happened a few decades ago at most.

I can't find any historical reason noncompetes were banned. I assume it happened because California was a new state and people coming there to work did not want to get stuck with the first employer they happened to end up with. There also would not have been a heavily established business lobby with enough power to prevent a ban, as there was on the east coast. California was writing a new legal code, so there was not an established precedent of noncompete agreements in state law.

If noncompetes hadn't been banned when California was such a young state, they probably never would have been. It was a time when a lot of things lined up to make it possible.

It wasn't a conscious choice -- they were drafting their laws from a set of model statutes called the Field Code and simply didn't even think about changing the provision.

Interestingly, this also happened in North Dakota.


Excellent, this is great information that is difficult to find!

Interesting fact filled article with an obvious employer bias slipping in at the end.

"Employers wishing to protect themselves from unfair competition in North Dakota should tread carefully."

It would be great to get these laws prohibitions of non-competes in more states. It is one of the main reasons I still live in the high cost of living/high taxed state of California.

Yeah, I think the blog is written by lawyers who represent employers and/or draft noncompetes.

Massachusetts recently almost banned them, California style, in response to the narrative that the Route 128 tech corridor could have been Silicon Valley were it not for enforceable noncompetes. The law was heavily watered down once industry lobbyists (especially from all the biotech companies) got done with it.

Still, it is a big improvement over the status quo. It limits time to one year, requires 50% compensation during the time when you can't work, and bans the most egregious abuses (noncompetes for minimum wage employees and so on).

California uses the XKCD cooking[1] method of banning things. Sometimes they get it right.

[1] https://xkcd.com/720/

California doesn't ban that much, for instance while I can't buy a 100 round drum magazine, I can buy liquor at the grocery store on a Sunday.

> Another thing California does right is refusing to honor noncompete agreements from other states.

They might refuse but the originating state companies have caught on and claim jurisdiction out of CA.

Non competes shouldn't last longer than your job. I once had to sign a year long non compete for a three month internship. Noncompetes should be void if you are fired. They should also only apply to salaried employees, or employees at a certain wage level. It is disgusting that minimum wage employees have to sign noncompetes

> They should also only apply to salaried employees, or employees at a certain wage level.

Why? I don't think they should apply to anyone.

For an internship it's even more unacceptable. An internship is supposed to make you more employable, not less so.

I’ve found these non-competes often have no teeth. Unless you possess exceptional knowledge or secrets, companies will not waste the resources going after you.

And often when they do, they lose. But it’s a judgement call. I’d say the fear of non-competes has more power than the non-competes themselves.

> I’ve found these non-competes often have no teeth. Unless you possess exceptional knowledge or secrets, companies will not waste the resources going after you.

You naively conflate "not biting" with "having no teeth".

Amazon forces all workers to sign non-competes. They only sue those who piss them off. Granted, a small minority. But that minority suffers a harrowing ordeal, typically losing their new job and their ability to work.

You better believe the rest are kept in line by the mere threat of such lawsuit, and the courts have enforced the non-compete in the cases Amazon did take legal action.

Good to know. I'll never work for Amazon no matter what the pay is.

Didn't know that, also FUCK AMAZON from now on. But what are they going to do? Some sort of civil suit is not that big of a deal if you have your assets appropriately sheltered.

Although this makes me hate Jeff Bezos just a little bit more. Hope he loses it all in the divorce battle.

> But what are they going to do? Some sort of civil suit is not that big of a deal if you have your assets appropriately sheltered.

I think this statement minimizes the severity of being sued. The stress of a civil suit that threatens your long-term livelihood is a very big deal, daily uncertainty for prolonged period of times about important parts of your life can cause a lot of nasty health problems.

The problem is the average person doesn't have the money to pay a lawyer to fight off a company - especially the ones with teams of lawyers who need something to do.

No it's much worse than this. They never threaten the employee. They threaten the company hiring the individual. The employee might take it to court(and it most states win), but the hiring firm has no incentive to do so, and just moves on the next candidate.

They don't have to sue, they just have to send a letter to the new firm. Or even worse the new firm just has to ask "did you sign a non-compete?"

Yes, this is exactly how it works. Well, in my experience my CEO threatened me and the new company. I was actually given the choice between a lawsuit and a promotion (with a salary that was almost competitive with the new company) in the course of a single conversation. I chose to stand by my resignation because I'd been very unhappy there and it wasn't going to get any better if I showed them that I could be bullied into line.

I suppose I was lucky that the new company tried to negotiate a bit, but when my former employer refused to budge, they backed out. My lawyer had warned me that this could happen even before I accepted the job offer, right after he assured me that I would be on solid legal ground in taking the job. Admittedly, I didn't really think it would happen because why would they want to be known as the kind of company that does that? Even so, I've never regretted my decision to leave. As stressful as that was, staying would have been worse.

Huh. But the hiring firm didn’t sign the non-compete, so how does the first company go after the second?

They threaten them with a tortious interference lawsuit which is defined as "intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of torts, occurs when one person intentionally damages someone else's contractual or business relationships with a third party causing economic harm"

This is the reason why employers ask if you've signed a non-complete

If you’re the “average person”, you have nothing to worry about. Trust me.

Non-competes really only matter for people with exceptional knowledge of something.

From a business standpoint, the legal resources to build a case against a single “average person” who signs a generic non-compete are not a good investment.

But like I said, it’s a judgement call. Anyone in the possession of that exceptional knowledge should be able to determine the risk.

If the average person has nothing to worry about then why do all average people have to sign non-competes if they want the job? The fact is that companies see a benefit in threatening all new hires with non-competes, and like I said elsewhere, the only people with enough pull to negotiate out of a non-compete are those highly specialized non-average people who are the least likely to sign the boilerplate contract, who the company will still want to hire when they push back with specific demands.

So who are the non-competes really for then?

>So who are the non-competes really for then?

They're for assuaging the corporate leadership that they are actually effective at managing that pesky turnover problem they've been having in a manner that doesn't require them to increase pay or improve working conditions. That and people who carry a "book of business" (the sales team) and those with critical expertise in certain, niche knowledge domains.

I have heard of hiring companies dropping new hires because they had a non-compete. They didn't want to take the risk so the company that has the non-compete doesn't even have to do anything for it to have an effect.

Not true. A friend is a PA working in emergency medicine. Nobody will touch her with a 10 foot pole. She needs to commute almost two hours or change fields to get out of her non-compete.

There was also an issue that resulted in state legal action where fast food workers were blackballed due to non-competes.

Uh, I know of several low-mid level techies where their companies played hardball around their non-competes.

Exactly, for me personally, its silly to worry about this thing non-compete thing. Its a matter of risk assessment. I figure that its very unlikely to cause me trouble.

Yet despite the fact that only _maybe_ executives should be subject to enforceable non-competes, it is the case that just about every new hire has to sign a non-compete clause at most tech companies. In fact, the only people with enough leverage to successfully be able to push back against a non-compete are the very execs who the non-competes are meant for.

You're right that the fear has more power than the non-compete itself, but the reality then is that companies en masse employ a politics of fear in their contract language.

About a year ago, I lost a new job before starting because the new company didn't want to deal with legal threats from my former employer. They agreed with my lawyer that my former employer wouldn't have a strong case, but they expressed concern that it would look bad for them to be involved in litigation.

The CEO who had been threatening to sue me and the new company was removed in June, presumably for unrelated reasons. Last week, he announced that he was taking a job which _my_ noncompete certainly would have prohibited me from taking.

Now, I don't know if he had a noncompete with my former employer. Perhaps he was able to negotiate it away. Maybe he was granted permission. Maybe he'll get sued, but I think that's unlikely because they have to know the new company will have his back and that they don't stand a chance of winning.

Whatever the case, it shows who the system works for.

Do non competes ever come back to bite you? I signed a non compete at a previous company, and several of coworkers left to a direct competitor. No one cares, no one ever heard anything about it.

My current company tried to get me to sign a non compete by leaving it on my desk. I dropped it in a drawer and now everyone's forgot about it. No one is ever going to remember to get me to sign it. The main thing that weirded me out about this one is it also said I can't recommend that any of my current coworkers come work with me for something like 2 years after I leave the company.

One came back to bite me: https://progressive.org/magazine/ties-that-bind/

They had a joke of a case. When they first threatened to sue after I'd given notice, the CEO told me he'd have to take legal action to set an example for the new company. Or as the head of HR put it "they can't take our best people." They made no mention of trade secrets or any other legitimate business interest that would have been required to enforce the agreement in court. Instead, the CEO said that they had a "basically an open and shut case" because I couldn't take my "work experience" to their "closest competitor," which is nonsense. Not to mention that people at both companies have told me the companies weren't even competitors.

But the new company withdrew the offer to avoid having to go to court, so the facts and the law didn't matter.

This is how non-competes work.

Wow, that sucks! So, have you move on from that company?

Yeah, after I submitted my resignation, I was given the choice between legal action and a promotion. I'd been performing at a very high level, been recommended for that promotion by my boss months earlier, only to have kicked it down the road by upper management. After I gave notice they offered to give it to me immediately, with a raise that made them almost competitive with the new company.

The legal threats almost scared me into staying, but then I thought about how miserable I would be if I went back there. The postponement of the promotion had been the least of my complaints, nothing else would be getting better, and I'd only be inviting further bullying in the future.

So I left. I didn't get sued because the new company dropped the offer before I started. I was unemployed for a couple of months and also spent a significant sum on a lawyer. The whole thing was expensive and stressful bordering on traumatic. But I've never regretted turning down the counteroffer.

Me personally would just sign it and forget about it. It won't stop me to work at competitor. I deemed that the chance it will come back to bite me is very very low, I'll accept risk.

That seems like an ok solution, but I much prefer mine of just never sign it and trust that no one will realize I never signed it. Best to not put up a fuss but also provide an airtight defense should they ever come after me.

Imho the only reason non competes should be permitted is if you’ve paid someone to acquire proprietary knowledge and that realistically the company's activities are the only reason that knowledge exists. It completely flies in the face of freedom of the worker to say you can’t jump ship to a competitor, unless you’re just doing it for trade secrets.

It’s anti-employee to say “hey, after us you don’t get to go use the skills and experience you’ve worked so hard for because that would harm our profits.” Surely employees don’t enjoy the reciprocal benefit of a company not being able to fill their spot after they leave.

I would argue that proprietary knowledge is already covered by trade secret law and patent law, and there is still no justification for a noncompete agreement in such a case. Let the employee go, and if you find out he/she has used that secret knowledge at another company then you sue.

Let's introduce reverse non-competes. Reverse non-compete forbids the employer to hire anyone who's directly competing with me on the labor market for one year after my resignation.

That's basically how it works in Sweden. If you are terminated (without cause), the company isn't allowed to employ other people with similar skill sets within a year unless they also give you an offer to come back.

There is a section on Arxiv called "Physics and Society" [0] that has papers with titles like, "Inference of Demographic Attributes based on Mobile Phone Usage Patterns and Social Network Topology" [1], that would be a perfect place to explore the mathematical and empirical answer to the question, "what is the ratio and shape of the number of folks in an economy that have non-competes and what is the result".

My hunch is that it is relatively small. I couldn't find the paper on a very small ratio of folks can flip a population's opinions. I seem to recall it being 5-10% but could be mistaken.

[0] https://arxiv.org/list/physics.soc-ph/recent

[1] https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.02932

I bet there are a lot of people who ended up working under a non-compete at some point, hopped to job number 5 or 6, and was at one point / is currently violating said non-compete, but nobody at the original company actually knows or cares where ex-employee #536 currently works and won't bother pursuing legal action.

I've worked at several companies where management didn't seem to have any idea what was actually in the documents they asked their employees to sign, it was all just cookie-cutter boilerplate that they either found online, or that some company lawyer put in there without actually planning anything further.

I run a digital agency and employ about 65 people who make more than $150k (product managers and developers, mostly). We stopped putting non competes into our employment contracts awhile ago, mainly because they’re too expensive to enforce. What we do instead is require all of our clients to sign headhunter fee agreements that entitle us to a fee (as much as 100% of salary) if they hire our staff. Much easier to enforce under liquidated damages precedents.

Did you go back and strike the non-competes already signed, too?

Yeah. New agreements have supremacy clauses.

Shockingly, 'right to work' laws don't forbid non-competes.

Not shocking at all when you understand "right-to-work" is an Orwellian term coined by business-friendly political operatives to erode labor rights and advance corporate/shareholder interests.


Because "right to work" is doublespeak and does the exact opposite of what it implies.

'right to work' has nothing to do with labour laws. A 'right to work' state only requires that unions are not mandatory. They hurt unions because everyone usually benefits from union negotiations, but in right to work states, they don't get the same funding.

Non-competes are heavily restricted in the UK under the basic principles of free competition, anti-slavery and anti-trust.

No noncompete clause can go further than is reasonably necessary to protect a legitimate business interest, otherwise it is unenforceable. The burden of proof is on the employer.

No individual can be prevented from plying their trade by contract with another.

I'm amazed in the land of the free that any of these things could stand up in a court. It's like reintroducing indenture.

With apologies to Casablanca, I'm shocked—shocked!—to find the US legal culture to favor the freedom of corporations over the freedom of people.

Which part of "this corporation is favored over all other corporations" leads you to the "favor[s] the freedom of corporations" idea?

Uh, which individual corporation is favored here? It's not like only some corporations are allowed to have non-compete clauses.

The one that has the non-compete signed with the employee is favored over all others that would like to hire that employee.

And other companies are free to sign non-competes with other people. There's no single "one" company separate from the rest except perhaps from the point of view of a single employee. As has been said by others, non-competes are primarily a weapon in corporate warfare, where the actual natural persons are just pawns.

In practice, I’ve seen a UK based friend end up in limbo while his former employer tried to take out an injunction against his new employer to prevent them hiring him.

It ended with a weird hostage swap. The new company agreed to let one of their team go work for the company that was trying to enforce the non-compete. They also insisted my friend wasn’t allowed to work on customer facing projects for six months.

In effect, it came down to who had the most money for lawyers rather than anything else.

In practice, non-competes can cause enough hassle and financial pain in the UK that, unfortunately, individuals can be prevented from plying their trade. That burden of proof isn’t as clear cut, either.

Maybe. Pretty much every company I've worked for has had a vaguely worded non-compete clause in their contracts. Usually you can't work for another company that does the same thing (i.e. a direct competitor) for a year.

None of them ever enforced them to my knowledge. Even ex-Dyson employees going to Shark. But the fact that they are allowed at all (and they are) is often enough to generate fear and doubt.

Some people leaving Dyson refused to name their new employees just to be safe.

They should be banned entirely.

Are non-competes enforceable across country borders? Example: I get hired by Google in Switzerland, quit, then go to work for Amazon in Canada. Is the non-compete I signed in Switzerland enforceable in Canada? What about across USA<->Canada? Or across EU member states?

Question for those in the know: is a non-compete valid if you signed the template, but the company never got it back to you signed on their end?

In other words, your signature is on it, but you've never seen their signature on it.

(Company State = Texas... and I don't reside in Texas)

Law student (non-USA) here.

The general contract law principle is: if both parties have signed a contract, it is legally valid. Whether copies are possessed by only one party or both is inconsequential.

Exceptions are if the contract contains language mandating that both parties should receive a copy, or if there are specific laws regulating the form of such contracts.

Idk if it's valid or not - I would assume yes - but as a piece of advice: do not sign any copy that hasn't been signed by the other party first.

Serious question - How do the previous employers find out when an employee breaches a non-compete agreement? Is it usually word of mouth that makes it's way to HR/legal? or is it registered through someone's SSN? Because I know LinkedIn does a pretty good job at hiding from your current employer that you're looking for a job. What's to stop them from hiding your current employer to your previous employer?

I think usually because the employee opens his fat mouth is why.

Sounds like the legally smart thing to do is to lie when they ask you where you're going to work after you quit. Which sucks. It's not good to lie, and it's bad if legal circumstances effectively require you to lie, but I guess it may be necessary here.

A couple of suggestions for things you can tell them:

* you want to travel the world for a year and find yourself. * you're going to start your own company. Maybe even register at the chamber of commerce and give them your card in case they want to hire you. * you need to take care of a family member. * you're burned out by this work and are going to work in retail or something. * you've got the opportunity to turn your hobby into your work. * you're going to move out of state/out of the country. * it's none of their business. (Not a lie! But if they suck, it might make them suspicious and do some research.)

What you do depends on your boss and the corporate culture. Some bosses/companies are happy to see their employees go on to bigger better things and others react with narcissistic rage. If you work for the latter keeping your cards close to your chest at all times is best. You're not leaving for a new job, you're quitting. Also, lock down your credit reports too.

fwiw - here's a FAQ on non-competes in oregon: https://www.oregon.gov/boli/TA/Pages/ta_faq_noncompete.aspx

I lived in Oregon when I signed a non-compete as a software engineer intern. I did not know what I was signing and thought it just applied to stealing trade secrets or source code.

So, I ended up working for that company after grad school, for about 6 years. Then,,, a customer of that company (one that I worked with, and grew a favorable reputation with) offered me a nice package (2x salary offering, plus a RSU bonus account worth about $125k). I was not making that much at the original company for the market (about $72k). So, I jumped....

I gave my previous employer about 6 weeks notice, and documented all of my work, and did my best to transfer project ownership to other employees. I really liked all of the engineers I worked with and was attempting to stay in good graces.

Then, on my last day of work my boss calls me on the phone and screams at me for leaving the company. He flashes the NDA on the computer screen and highlights the non-competitor part of the agreement. Then, he has the gall to demand that I sign another agreement, saying that I am knowingly taking trade secrets with me..... Bull-shit, I'm not signing that I say. Then, I had to hire a lawyer and burn through the sign on bonus and relocation at the new company to move on. I ended up signing a version of that agreement, since my lawyer said we would have to take them to court to get out of it, and that I will be out after 18 months anyways. The truth of the matter is, I could have fought it and may have won, since I made less then the threshold, but I just wanted to move on....

Now, I am really happy. I am finally making a living (comfortable) wage for me and my family, and will be taking a family vacation for the first time in years.

Sounds like a good explanation for why the tech industry in Silicon Valley is so much bigger than everywhere else, e.g. places like Portland and New York and Boston who theoretically could have just as many qualified workers because of their universities, and also offer a high quality of life.

People move around, including to direct competitors. Tech companies in Silicon Valley need to deal with it because they can't prevent it. As a result, new companies are able to attract talent, people can leave their jobs to start new companies, etc. Companies raise workers' salaries to encourage them to stay.

You had to hire a lawyer to get out of signing the additional agreement? Why did you sign the additional agreement?

Yes. My old boss was threatening to take me to court. I could not afford the fees, but I wanted a lawyer to review any paperwork that I was being forced to sign.

After my last day I hired a lawyer to review the document. He was able to strike the part about me knowingly taking IP with me. He then advised me to sign the document, since court costs would be much more expensive.

Wow. What a horror story.

How were you taking IP? Just the knowledge you had in your head? What a joke.

Did you tell them where you were heading? Maybe for the future it would be better not to declare this.

Yes. I told my boss, when he asked. They would find out, since I left to their customer.

They would find out.

I've found Oregon's law to be something that could be a reasonable and realistic compromise on a national level. I personally would like to remove them completely as I feel like they are very Anti-American in spirit, but Oregon has something that addresses some of the worse abuses of non-competes and seems like it could make ground politically.

Why wouldn't California's ban on non-competes be a reasonable and realistic compromise?

I was thinking pragmatically. Obviously, there is resistance to California's ban or we would already have plenty of other states with similar laws. We live in a country of hundreds of millions of people and I try to look for ways to improve a situation with a solution that a majority would support today.

I prefer progress to perfect and I hope you feel the same.

Yes, Oregon's wage limit (4 person family) and 18 time limit help...

This coming from someone who's former employer tried to enforce a NDA on me.

Most non-competes are null. Get a Lawyer (and if you're French, come to see me).

You have no contact information in your profile.

Occupational licensing is another form of non-compete agreements. Only instead of the employer preventing employees from moving to a a new company, occupational licensing prevents professionals from (1) crossing state lines or moving into new professions.


In my first job (junior developer in end of nineties) I had NDA that prevented me to work on software industry for 2 years if I leave the company. I left to competitor but I was worried if they sue me. They never did, so then I learned it is just a scaring tactic's. Also, a lawyer told me later that not only it is illegal they also would need to fully compensate the period I am in quarantine.

I generally read the verbiage... especially regarding non-competes and IP assignment. If it only regards poaching and work done for the employer, I'll sign.. if it includes work I do on my own, or working for a competitor for an unreasonable time-frame, I decline or strike out the offending lines.

I've dealt with a non compete before and it was literally telling the previous company to go away. I used an excessive amount of swear words in my official response. After consulting a lawyer I learned for the most part they are just a bluff. Obviously you can't steal ip but even if the non compete was enforceable, it's usually a scare tactic. Call the bluff. More than likely those workers only think they are trapped because it sounds scary.

Edit: downvoted of course, but seriously under most cases the company will not pursue it and it was likely unenforceable in the first place. It's a scare tactic by employers and pretend control over their employees. They are bullshit. I'd like to hire an employee that flat out said "yeah I'm not signing that, it's bullshit" it shows they actually have a bit of grit regarding pointless non legally binding paperwork.

noncompetes work even when illegal and unenforceable. Why, because you or many of your potential employers don't want the massive cost and emotional toll of being sued - even if you win you lose. That's all google, facebook, microsoft, etc. you know the companies that we KNOW are guilty of operating a cartel to drive down wages. That's all they need. This baseless illegal, legally unenforcable contract provision means they can use to impose a huge fine on you that is a negligible, non-material business expense to them even when they lose and you win in court. They win and you lose in real life.

Law is supposed to exist so the strongest might not always get their way. The law totally and utterly fails when it comes to non-competes. There are incentives to abuse them and no meaningful consequences.

Cue the apologists working for the big silicon valley players...

> Cue the apologists working for the big silicon valley players...

Why? Silicon Valley is in California where noncompetes are illegal. Silicon Valley companies don't use them. I've been in Silicon Valley my entire career and I have never seen one or heard of anyone who has.

All of those companies extend outside of California. Googling “google noncompete” turned up several examples. Here’s one... https://gawker.com/378444/did-you-sign-googles-noncompete-go...

I have personally witnessed a silicon valley company attempt to impose a non-compete on some employees in another state.

SV companies operating in Washington State have some of the worst non-competes.

And those SV companies also were caught having a no poaching agreements between each other. If those guys could enforce non-competes in California they would do so reflexively.

They're not illegal. They're just unlikely to be enforceable. Big difference.

Did you read the rest of the post you're responding to? Did I miss something? I thought u/adyidsinga explained it quite well.

> Did you read the rest of the post you're responding to? Did I miss something? I thought u/adyidsinga explained it quite well.

Who? Nobody with that username has posted anywhere in this entire thread as far as I can tell.

They mean andyidsinga.

"Why? Silicon Valley is in California where noncompetes are illegal"

Everything that follows this is a subsequent edit.

Is that a problem? I routinely edit my own comments to clarify a thought or fix a typo, and I'm grateful when others take the trouble to do the same.

Go right ahead and note the edit. You see it frequently around here, people write

edit: I'm adding this bit for further explanation.

I was being criticised rather heavily for responding to what was written as it didn't look "Charitable" in the light of subsequent expansion. It's right there still if you care to look.

edit: this conversation thread has been completely de-railed by it. Was that the point? Who knows...

I hope you won't mind too much if I disagree with you about this. I don't personally find any value in remarks like "edit: fixed a typo and added a couple more sentences to help explain what I meant."

I don't plan to start adding those kinds of remarks when I edit a comment. I don't care if other people do this, I just don't see any value in it myself, and I'm just as happy if people simply edit their comments without calling special attention to the edit. I'm not following the history of their comment, I'm just reading it at the moment I read it.

Of course if people have replied to a comment, and a subsequent edit changes the meaning of the comment so the replies don't make sense any more, that is a different story and deserves an "edit" remark.

Ok then don't edit your comment at all. Changing the context of the responses to make them look bad is a dk move full stop the end. Clear enough? Good o. Best.

I realize this is something you feel strongly about, but I will not be following your advice in this matter.

I hope we can remain friends, OK?

given that you only ever see meaningless "edit: spelling" comments they don't add any useful information and are just noise IMO.


As an aside, this is one of the least charitable ways you could have responded to that comment. It's probably why you're getting downvoted. This is why what you wrote is dismissive:

1. They quoted the portion of your comment relevant to their response,

2. They explained in a straightforward and neutral way why what you said in the quoted portion doesn't really make sense,

3. You responded without any specifics about what you're not following,

4. You assumed they simply failed to understand you.

Now, I think the part you didn't follow is this: you tried to preempt noncompete "apologists" working at large tech companies in California. However as a rule, such companies generally do not (and cannot) rely on noncompetes, which means what you're saying isn't applicable. Further, the merits of your original point notwithstanding, it's also kind of dismissive to call those on the other side of the argument "apologists" in the way you did.

All in an edit after I made the response. Charitable? The conversation is now well and truly de-railed. Cool huh?

The conversation hasn't been derailed at all. This subthread is at the bottom of the page; at the top of the thread there are plenty of people making new comments unencumbered by this discussion.

The part where trying to enforce a non-compete in California will get you laughed (literally!) out of a lawyers office.

Unless the employee in question is unable to use Google and search for "non compete california", which, I'd hope every tech worker is able to use Google, the zeroth (meaning, it's right on the search results page, and not a link away, it states "In the state of California, non-compete agreements that seek to prohibit employees from obtaining gainful employment are null and void."

While I believe that's true, anyone with a serious concern shouldn't be taking legal advice from search results.

The Silicon Valley companies you railed against for abusing noncompete agreements don't actually use noncompete agreements.

I've never been asked to sign a noncompete when working in California for any company, including Google. I have not worked at the others so I can't say what their practices are, but most CA-based companies will never even try to get you to sign a non-compete agreement because they know it cannot be enforced.

IBM's contract with California employees doesn't have anything inappropriate for a California employee. That sort of thing is a basic indication of business ethics. Say what you will about IBM in other areas, but they're very ethical about employment contracts.

The response has now been edited and explains more fully as a result of that. Just FYI. Charitable, yes. We should all be more so.

This is very true. I knew someone who couldn't get a job with another advertising firm because he had signed a non-compete. Even though they're not enforceable, no company wants to hired from another company where they know those companies sign non-competes (and hence they could be in for a court case).

This situation is real and I've seen it happen more than once.

I worked for a small firm for a number of years. We wouldn't touch anyone who had a non-compete however unlikely it was to come into play. Just wasn't worth the business risk.

>That's all google, facebook, microsoft, etc. you know the companies that we KNOW are guilty of operating a cartel to drive down wages

The cartel was broken around 2010 and that (together with options expensing) have led to the compensations growth from $150K back then to $400K+ today. If anything the FB, Google, etc are driving everybody's wages up today.

What does that mean? Are you saying that if I made $150k in 2010, I should expect to be making $400k or more today?

That's the problem with the legal system. It's very easy to bully the little guy. Even if the company loses it will still have cost a lot of money that most employees can't afford.

And if you're a 'worker' no court is ever going to enforce a non-compete clause.

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