March 20, 2019

FTC Should Outlaw Worker Noncompete Clauses

Public Citizen, Open Markets Institute, More Than 60 Groups and Scholars Petition for a New Rulemaking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should issue a new rule banning worker noncompete clauses, Public Citizen, the Open Markets Institute and more than 60 other signatories said in a petition filed with the agency today.

Employers across a range of industries require workers to accept a noncompete clause as a condition of employment. These unjust contracts deprive tens of millions of workers of the freedom to accept a new job, pursue new opportunities or start a business in the same line of work or industry after they leave their current job.

Noncompete clauses impact workers in a variety of industries and vocations, including camp counselors, engineers, fast-food workers, hair stylists, physicians and yoga instructors. Amazon, for example, until 2015 prohibited warehouse employees from working for a current or future competitor of the retail giant anywhere in the country for 18 months after leaving.

“At a time when fewer workers are represented by unions, the right to leave is the only source of real bargaining power for many and is critical for workers subject to mistreatment on the job or faced with low wages,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “Noncompete clauses can compel workers to stay in discriminatory or hostile work environments without the option to take their skills elsewhere.”

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