The Washington State House of Representatives recently proposed new legislation regarding non-compete agreements. This legislation would change the way Non-Compete Agreements operate in Washington State by making them unenforceable by default. Non-complete clauses are sometimes enforced arbitrarily without any real connection to business needs. As Washington courts allow, but do not favor non-compete agreements this has the tendency to lead to unnecessary attempts at enforcement or costly litigation. The new legislation is a move towards an approach more in line with California where non-competes are not allowed outside of a couple of narrow exceptions.
GeekWire interviewed Rep. Derek Sanford, one of the authors of the proposed legislation, who said “Taking away a person’s right to go find a new job – whether to take on more responsibility, or to get out of a bad situation, or whatever – is a tremendous demand which should never be regarded as just a standard contract clause.” When NCAs start to comprise a person’s right to find another job for the sake of corporate advantage, we must question our current legislation. Hopefully this bill will lead to a change in the way non-competes are structured, so that there is less uncertainty in how these agreements are enforced.
Finally, please note this is only PROPOSED legislation, it remains to be seen if this bill becomes a law.