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:

Continue Reading 100 Industry Organizations Request Extension of Comment Period on FTC’s Proposed Noncompete Ban

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 The FTC did not file the proposed rule with the Federal Register until January 18, 2023, and it will not be published until January 19, 2023, meaning that the comment period will end on March 20, 2023—not March 10, 2023, as the FTC initially announced.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.

Continue Reading Comments to the FTC’s Proposed Noncompete Ban Due March 20, 2023 – and the Comment Period May Be Extended Another 60 Days

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:

Continue Reading FTC Proposes to Sweep Away All Noncompetes in Unauthorized Federal Power Grab

“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.

Continue Reading FTC Enforcement Actions Stake Out Aggressive New Position on Post-Employment Non-Compete Agreements

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.

Continue Reading Will the FTC Ban Noncompetes? What Employers Need to Know About the Proposed Rule

Our colleagues Erik Weibust, Carter DeLorme, and Philip Antablin co-authored an article in AHLA’s Health Law Connections, titled “Securing Key Employees in Health Care M&A Transactions with Restrictive Covenants.” (Read the full version – subscription required.) 

Continue Reading Health Care M&A Transactions: Securing Key Employees with Restrictive Covenants

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.

Continue Reading Companies That Use Noncompetes Face Increased Risk of Government Action Following FTC’s Unilateral Expansion of Its Enforcement Powers

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:

Continue Reading DOJ Secures Its First No-Poach Win with a Guilty Plea by a Healthcare Staffing Firm