Washington State House Democrats


Stanford bill to ban excessive non-compete agreements scheduled for hearing next Monday

OLYMPIA – Next Monday, Feb. 1 the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee will hear Rep. Derek Stanford’s (D – Bothell) bill to ban non-compete agreements for non-executive and low-wage workers.

This is the second year Stanford has taken on the overuse of unfair non-compete agreements. Over the interim, he worked with stylists who were pushed out of their communities by salons they formerly worked for, grocery workers who were laid off by Haggen’s and couldn’t return to work at another grocery store, and other stakeholders who have been impacted by unfair non-compete agreements.

“The use of these restrictive contracts in low-wage and middle-class jobs has become rampant, particularly in our region” Stanford said. “For two years now I’ve worked with every-day people from across the state who have had their lives derailed because of non-compete clauses and subsequent lawsuits from employers just looking to bully them out of the market.”

Non-compete agreements are often used in the technology industry, where even temporary software developers, coders and web designers working with temp agencies are forced to sign contracts that prohibit them from finding a “similar” job after their temporary employment ends. Two years ago, The New York Times reported on summer camp counselors, salon stylists and Jimmy John’s sandwich-makers who have all been forced into signing non-compete agreements.

Some giant companies argue that non-compete agreements are critical for their continued success.

“For high-level managers, CEOs and vice presidents who are in charge of proprietary business strategy, non-compete agreements could be reasonable,” Stanford said. “But leave the little guys out of this. Leave out the temporary workers, the mid-level managers, the young and bright entrepreneurs who will take their skills and start ‘the next big thing.’”

Stanford’s bill (HB 2931) would ban unreasonable non-compete agreements, defined as agreements for temporary or seasonal employees, non-executive employees or agreements that restrict an employee from other jobs for more than a year, and would void non-compete agreements if an employee is fired without just cause.