Posts tagged FTC.
Blogs
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As we have previously written, on April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a sweeping final rule (“the Rule”) that purports to ban virtually all post-employment noncompete agreements in the United States. The Rule was formally published in the Federal Register on May 7, 2024, and will go into effect 120 days later, on September 4, 2024--if it survives the legal challenges that were filed in quick response.

While justice may not always be swift, the news about the Rule and challenges to it have developed at breakneck speed by many litigators’ standards over the ...

Blogs
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Our colleagues Peter Steinmeyer and Erik Weibust at Epstein Becker Green co-authored an article in Thomson Reuters Practical Law, titled “Expert Q&A on the FTC's Final Rule Banning Post-Employment Non-Competes.

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

On April 24, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the issuance of a final rule banning employers from entering into, enforcing, or attempting to enforce post-employment non-compete clauses with workers, subject to limited exceptions, and invalidating all ...

Blogs
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We recently reported on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 3-2 vote to issue its final noncompete rule that, unless it is enjoined, would ban all new noncompetes and a majority of existing noncompetes (the Noncompete Rule).  As expected, within hours of the FTC’s vote on the final noncompete rule, Ryan, LLC, a leading global tax services and software provider, filed a lawsuit challenging the Noncompete Rule, and shortly thereafter the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America (the U.S. Chamber) followed suit, filing its own lawsuit seeking to vacate and set aside the ...

Blogs
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As expected, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted 3-2 yesterday to issue its final noncompete rule, with only a few changes from the proposed rule that are discussed below. Unless it is enjoined, which we expect, the rule will become effective 120 days after publication of the final version in the Federal Register.

If the final rule survives the legal challenges, which are likely to make it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, all new non-competes would be banned. Except for existing non-competes for senior executives (as defined below), all existing noncompetes with ...

Blogs
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[Update: On April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-2 to issue its final noncompete rule, with only a few changes from the proposed rule. Analysis of the final rule, the changes, and what may come next are discussed in this blog post.]

On April 16, 2024, the FTC announced that it will hold a special Open Commission Meeting on April 23, 2024 to vote on its proposed rule to ban the use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts, which has been pending since January 2023.  

As we reported then, the proposed rule, as drafted, would prohibit employers throughout the United States ...

Blogs
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The Clash famously asked “Should I stay, or should I go?” on their 1982 album, Combat Rock, and with recent attacks on non-competes at both the state and federal level, some employers are imposing additional costs on employees who take advantage of an employer’s training opportunities only to leave and join a competitor. So-called “stay or pay” clauses, or training-repayment-agreement-provisions (TRAPs), typically require an employee to pay the employer the cost the employer incurred to train the employee if the employee leaves their employment within a certain ...

Blogs
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As federal administrative agencies wade further into rulemaking and adjudicative efforts to outlaw noncompetes and restrictive covenants, defendants are beginning to raise preemption arguments in response to state court breach of contract claims on the topic.

A recent case shows defendants are taking things into their own hands and not waiting for the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to conclude its announced rulemaking on the subject or for the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) to rule on the NLRB General Counsel’s stated position that nearly all noncompetes ...

Blogs
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As we discussed earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in recent years has brought numerous criminal prosecutions against companies accused of engaging in so-called “naked” no-poach agreements, i.e., agreements among competing businesses to restrict hiring or compensation of employees, outside of any legitimate collaborative relationship.  The DOJ’s efforts in this regard were spurred by the issuance in 2016 of Antitrust Guidance for Human Resources Professionals, which was a warning issued by the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission ...

Blogs
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As we wrote almost exactly a year ago – months before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its proposed noncompete rule – the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA made it clear that the FTC does not have the authority to use its rulemaking powers to ban (or otherwise regulate) noncompetition agreements because it does not have “clear congressional authorization” to do so. The Supreme Court’s decision last week striking down the current Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan further confirms that the Supreme Court would likely strike down any noncompete rule promulgated by the FTC under the Major Questions Doctrine. See Biden v. Nebraska, 600 U.S. __ (June 30, 2023).

Blogs
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On June 21, 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis issued a report entitled “New data on non-compete contracts and what they mean for workers” that calls into question the assumptions made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its recent rulemaking efforts.[1]

The report begins by stating what we have been saying for a long time: that “relatively little survey evidence [is] available” about the actual effect of noncompetes on workers. In other words, it is not that there is substantial evidence that noncompetes help workers (although there are studies showing that they can in certain circumstances), but rather that the data is slim and, contrary to what the FTC and the media might lead the public to believe, there is likewise not settled evidence that noncompetes harm workers. As the Minnesota Fed points out, “[t]he recent explosion of public discussion about non-competes has made clear the need for better and more systematic data collection.”

Blogs
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According to Bloomberg, The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is not expected to vote on the final version of a new rule that would ban noncompete clauses in employment contracts until April 2024. The rule defines a “non-compete clause” as “a contractual term between an employer and a worker that prevents the worker from seeking or accepting employment with a person, or operating a business, after the conclusion of the worker’s employment with the employer.”

As we previously reported, the proposed rule would ban employers from imposing noncompete agreements on their employees. The rule would also require employers to rescind all preexisting noncompete agreements and to notify all employees who had been subject to a noncompete agreement of the recission. Although the proposed rule would not prohibit other kinds of employment restrictions, such as nondisclosure agreements, certain restrictions that are overbroad could be subject to the new rule. For example, a non-disclosure agreement between an employer and an employee that is written so broadly that it effectively precludes the employee from working in the same field would be considered a “de facto” noncompete clause.

Blogs
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A Ruling and Order issued on April 28, 2023 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut in United States v. Patel, et al. ran the government’s losing streak to four failed trials seeking to criminally prosecute alleged wage-fixing and no-poach agreements. 

To review, in 2016 the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued Antitrust Guidance for Human Resources Professionals that warned of potential criminal prosecution for so-called “naked” no-poach agreements, i.e., agreements among competing businesses to restrict hiring or compensation of employees, untethered to any legitimate collaborative relationship. 

Blogs
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It is no secret that political winds are blowing against the practice of employers requiring certain employees to sign non-competition agreements, as demonstrated most saliently earlier this year when the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) introduced its proposed rule that would ban non-competes nationwide, with retroactive effect.  While thousands of comments have been submitted to the FTC regarding that proposed rule (and the comment period is scheduled to close this week), legislators in many states have been busy introducing legislation that would ban or limit the use of non-competes.

Blogs
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FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson, published an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal today in which she announced her resignation from the FTC and explained her reasoning. Readers may recall that Commissioner Wilson was the lone dissenting voice on the FTC’s proposed rule banning noncompetes nationwide.

Blogs
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it will be hosting a public forum on February 16, 2022, from 12:00-3:00 p.m. ET, to discuss its proposed nationwide noncompete ban. The forum is intended to supplement the FTC’s request for written comments, which as of today have exceeded 10,000. According to the FTC, “[t]he commission will hear from a series of speakers who have been subjected to noncompete restrictions, as well as business owners who have experience with noncompetes.” It is unclear whether any of the “business owners who have experience with ...

Blogs
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Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced legislation on February 1, 2023 entitled the Workforce Mobility Act (the “Act”). This bill has been introduced previously, but never made it out of committee.

Blogs
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As we predicted, earlier today, 100 industry organizations submitted a request to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to extend the comment period for its proposed rule banning noncompetes nationwide by an additional 60 days. According to the letter, “[t]he regulated community should be given sufficient time to assess the potential consequences of the rulemaking and develop insightful comments for the Commission to consider.” The letter further states:

Blogs
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As previously reported, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a rule on January 5, 2023, that would ban noncompetes nationwide. There are serious questions about the FTC’s authority to promulgate such a rule and many practical reasons why such a sweeping approach is unwarranted—in particular at the federal level. The period for submitting formal comments to the proposed rule lasts 60 days following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. The FTC did not file the proposed rule with the Federal Register until January 18, 2023, and it will not be published until January 19, 2023, meaning that the comment period will end on March 20, 2023—not March 10, 2023, as the FTC initially announced. We are told that there will be a formal request to extend the comment period for an additional 60 days, or until May 19, 2023, and that the FTC is likely to grant the request.

Blogs
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Our colleagues Erik W. Weibust, Peter A. Steinmeyerand Stuart M. Gerson co-authored an article in the Legal Backgrounder, published by the Washington Legal Foundation, titled “After 200+ Years Under State Law, FTC Proposes to Sweep Away All Noncompetes in Unauthorized Federal Power Grab.”

Following is an excerpt:

Blogs
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“Practices that three unelected bureaucrats find distasteful will be labeled with nefarious adjectives and summarily condemned, with little to no evidence of harm to competition. I fear the consequences for our economy, and for the FTC as an institution”

 – FTC Commissioner Christine S. Wilson

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) started 2023 with a bang. In addition to issuing a proposed Rule that would ban post-employment noncompetes nationwide, the FTC announced that it had settled two previously undisclosed enforcement actions and entered into proposed consent orders with three employers based on a novel legal theory.  According to the Complaints filed in each action, the FTC contends that the defendant employers’ use of broad post-employment non-compete agreements constituted “unfair methods of competition” in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Unfortunately, the timing of the announcement of these enforcement actions—one day before announcing the proposed rule—seems intended to discourage employers from challenging the FTC’s authority to issue rules banning, or otherwise regulating, noncompetes, and to intimidate the business community.

Blogs
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On Thursday, January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made headlines with its announcement that it is proposing a new rule that would ban employers from using noncompete clauses (the “rule”).

The rule, as drafted, would prohibit employers throughout the United States from relying on or enforcing covenants to not compete. It is retroactive, further requiring the rescission of any such restrictive covenants currently in existence by an undetermined compliance date (which will be at least 240 days from now, at the earliest). The rule also specifies that the federal regulations would supersede any contradictory state law.

The announcement, while stunning to many, is a development that we anticipated and questioned halfway through 2022 and saw coming by the end of the year.

Blogs
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Perhaps we were wrong. Or perhaps we were just not thinking creatively enough. After President Biden issued his “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” in which he “encourage[d]” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “consider” exercising its statutory rulemaking authority “to curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility,” we assumed that Lina Khan, the 33-year-old Biden-appointed Chair of the FTC (and a vocal opponent of noncompetes), would take the torch and propose a Rule prohibiting, or at the very least severely limiting, the use of noncompetes. And she may still do so.

Blogs
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It is no secret that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been largely unsuccessful in the criminal no poach cases it has brought to trial to date. Its most public loss came with the acquittals earlier this year of DaVita, a dialysis company, and certain of its executives in the District of Colorado. DOJ also lost at trial in another high-profile case in the Eastern District of Texas involving a physical therapy staffing company (although it secured a conviction against a company executive for obstruction of justice). But DOJ has pressed on, claiming victories at the motion to dismiss stage. Indeed, following its recent trial losses, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, who leads the DOJ’s antitrust division, had this to say:

Blogs
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On July 9, 2021, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which encourages the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to employ its statutory rulemaking authority “to curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility.”  Executive Order, Section 5(g).  While the language in the Executive Order refers to the “unfair” use of non-compete clauses, the Administration’s explanatory statement makes clear that “the President encourages the FTC to ban or ...

Blogs
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Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that a federal grand jury in Texas indicted Neeraj Jindal, the former owner of a physical therapist staffing company, in connection with an illegal wage-fixing conspiracy to depress pay rates for physical therapists (“PTs”) and physical therapist assistants (“PTAs”) who travel to patients’ homes or assisted living facilities in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.  The indictment was something of a landmark for the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), which for years had promised that such ...

Blogs
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On January 9, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) held a public workshop in Washington, DC to examine whether there is a sufficient legal basis and empirical economic support to promulgate a Commission rule that would restrict the use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts.  At the conclusion of the workshop, the FTC solicited public comments from interested parties on various issues, including business justifications for non-competes, effect of non-competes on labor-market participants and efficacy of state law for addressing harms arising from ...

Blogs
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Featured on Employment Law This Week:  No relief is expected from the Trump administration on anti-poaching agreements.

2016 guidance from the DOJ and FTC put employers on notice that agreements between companies not to poach employees, or to limit the compensation paid to some employees, could violate antitrust laws. There had been some speculation that President Trump’s DOJ would back away from this policy, but recent comments by the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division indicated that new administration will support the policy, and promised several ...

Blogs
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On October 20, 2016—just about three weeks before the presidential election won by Donald Trump—the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission issued a remarkable document, entitled “Antitrust Guidance for Human Resources Professionals,” which outlined an aggressive policy promising to investigate and punish employers, and even individual Human Resources employees, who enter into unlawful agreements concerning recruitment or retention of employees.  As stated in that document, “[a]n agreement among competing employers to limit or fix the terms of ...

Blogs
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The top story on Employment Law This Week: The DOJ intends to investigate anti-competitive trade practices.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission released joint guidance for HR professionals on how antitrust laws apply to employment. The guidance explains that agreements among employers not to recruit certain employees—or not to compete on terms of compensation—are illegal. Notably, the DOJ announced that they plan to criminally investigate “naked no-poaching or wage fixing agreements” that are unrelated to legitimate collaboration between ...

Blogs
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Political winds disfavoring non-compete agreements for low wage and rank-and-file workers continue to blow, and appear to be picking up speed.

On October 25, 2016, the White House took the unusual step of issuing a “Call to Action” to states regarding non-compete agreements, as part of the President’s initiative to stoke competition across the economy.  Calling non-competes an “institutional factor that has the potential to hold back wages and entrepreneurship,” the Call to Action seeks to reduce the misuse of non-compete agreements nationwide.

President Obama ...

Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

Following up on a string of civil enforcement actions and employee antitrust suits, regarding no-poaching agreements in the technology industry, on October 20, 2016 the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued Antitrust Guidance for Human Resources Professionals (the “Guidance”). The Guidance outlines an aggressive policy to investigate and punish employers, and individual human resources employees who enter into unlawful agreements concerning employee recruitment or retention.

The Guidance focuses on three types of ...

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