On May 30, 2023, Jennifer Abruzzo, the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), issued a memorandum declaring that non-compete agreements for non-supervisory employees violate the National Labor Relations Act. The memo explains that having a non-compete chills employees’ Section 7 rights when it comes to demanding better wages. The theory goes that employees cannot threaten to resign for better conditions because they have nowhere to go. Non-compete agreements also prohibit employees from seeking better working conditions with competitors and/or soliciting coworkers to leave with them for a local competitor.
Experts have yet to weigh in, but ultimately this issue will be decided by the federal courts. As an employer, if you employ any non-supervisory employees that are subject to a non-compete agreement, an unfair labor practice charge could be filed, and it appears the NLRB would lean towards invalidating the agreement, though all evidence would have to be taken into consideration.
If you have specific questions on how this memo may affect your company, you should consult with an attorney with experience acting as that labor counsel and/or chief spokesman in contract negotiations and has handled union elections and labor arbitrations.