Another year, another attempt at noncompete reform in Massachusetts.  According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced that lawmakers would unveil a bill limiting the use of noncompete agreements in the Commonwealth.  As we have previously reported, legislators have been attempting to enact noncompete reforms in Massachusetts for years (since at least 2008), to no avail, including a last minute push by outgoing Governor Deval Patrick at the end of his term in 2014.  Thus far, nothing has been accomplished, but the forthcoming bill appears to propose less dramatic restrictions than in the past, so perhaps 2016 is finally the year.

Specifically, Speaker DeLeo’s bill is expected to contain the following restrictions:

  • Noncompete agreements would be limited to 12 months in duration;
  • Employers would be required to notify incoming employees about noncompetes before they accept a job offer; and
  • Noncompetes would be prohibited for low-wage workers like restaurant and retail workers.

More specifics will no doubt be forthcoming, such as whether the restrictions will be retroactive, whether tolling provisions will be permitted beyond the 12 month restriction, the definition of low wage workers, and what, if any, effects this will have on other post-employment restrictive covenants such as nonsolicitation agreements.