It’s Groundhog Day: Massachusetts Legislature Again Proposes Comprehensive Noncompete Law

The Massachusetts legislature is once again seeking to enact comprehensive noncompetition legislation to rein in the use, and some may argue the abuse, of restrictive covenants in employment agreements. Currently, noncompete agreements are examined by courts on a case-by-case basis under well-developed Massachusetts case law. This approach, however, has sometimes led to inconsistencies in the courts and unpredictable results. 

Current Legislative Action

On April 17, 2018, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development introduced House Bill 4419—An Act Relative to the Judicial Enforcement of Noncompetition Agreements. House Bill 4419 builds on house and senate bills introduced in prior years. Since 2009, multiple bills have been introduced in both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate. A comprehensive bill gained significant traction in 2016 when both the house and senate passed noncompete legislation only to have it perish with the end of the legislative session.  

House Bill 4419 shares many elements with the prior bills, and some of the key points of the newest bill include the following:

Next Steps and Key Takeaways

House Bill 4419 is now before the Massachusetts House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling. There are presently no scheduled committee hearings, and there is no predictable timetable for when (or if) the bill will escape the committee for a full vote by the house. If enacted, the bill would take effect on October 1, 2018. Stay tuned for further developments, as we will know by July 31, 2018, if this year’s bill—in any form—will become law.

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National Law Review, Volumess VIII, Number 120