One Last Try at Noncompete Reform?

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. –Steven Senne/AP

After signing a big ol’ economic development bill Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick refiled a smaller bill in an attempt, once more, to address noncompete clauses in Massachusetts, MassLive reports.

Earlier this year, Patrick had proposed banning noncompetes—contractual clauses in which companies can bind their employees not to work for or launch a competing business for a set period of time after leaving the job. The notion was embraced by the tech and startup community, who view the clauses as anti-innovative because they give a leg up to more established companies and make it more difficult to find talent. But the legislature wasn’t fully on-board. More established companies, along with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, vocally opposed the move to ban the clauses.


A compromise between an outright ban and the status quo was worked into the Senate’s version of the economic development bill. That amendment would have limited the length of non-competes to six months, and ban them for hourly workers. However, noncompetes went unaddressed by the final version of the bill crafted by both the Senate and the House, which Patrick signed Wednesday.

Patrick’s refiled bill would mirror that compromise. But it’s probably unlikely to go anywhere. Formal legislative sessions ended on July 31. Informal sessions are generally only used to consider noncontroversial business. Noncompetes, for whatever reason, have failed to meet that distinction on Beacon Hill.

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