Look Before You Leap: Non-compete Law In Massachusetts

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Many observers in Massachusetts’ business and legal communities took note of legislative activity in the area of “non-compete agreements” this past session, which concluded on July 31, 2010 with no bills ultimately passing into law. Proposals included the complete prohibition of any such restrictive covenants, and the establishment of specific income and time period limitations, pre-determined by statute, in order for such agreements to be enforceable at law. All of the stakeholders that could be affected in any future debate on this topic -- employees, employers, policymakers and attorneys -- would be well-advised to take note of the substantial body of current Massachusetts law that already governs in this area and proceed with caution. As outlined and summarized in this article, Massachusetts courts have already displayed a consistent willingness to examine in detail disputes between a departing employee and his or her employer and take appropriate steps, including injunctive relief if necessary, to protect both sides' legitimate -- but sometimes conflicting -- rights when this happens. Given the nearly unlimited variety of industry-driven issues confronted by both employers and employees when they part ways, Massachusetts policymakers should not overlook established precedence and well-developed common law before creating any new statutory standards (which may well have unintended consequences) to govern such an occurrence.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Raymond Ausrotas, Arrowood Peters LLP | Attorney Advertising

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