Russell Beck was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article about recent state initiatives to regulate the use of noncompete agreements for low-wage workers.

The story is titled “Red State Lawmakers Look at Noncompete Bans for Low-Wage Workers.” The February 9, 2022, article was written by Chris Marr, who writes about labor & employment news for Bloomberg Law.

The article discusses recent legislative efforts in several states to regulate or prohibit the use of non-competition agreements for lower-wage and hourly workers.

The article quotes Russell as follows:

Research suggests 18% of the U.S. workforce is bound by a noncompete, and 38% of workers have signed one previously.

How often employers attempt to enforce noncompetes against low-wage workers is difficult to measure, said Russell Beck, attorney at Beck Reed Riden LLP in Boston, whose practice focuses largely on employment covenants. Enforcement sometimes happens through civil litigation, but can also take the form of a verbal reminder or a cease-and-desist letter to the employee, he said.

“There are a lot of low-wage workers bound by noncompetes and complying with them, even when they might not in fact be enforceable,” Beck said.

Russell explains that the recent legislative activity at the state level mirrors federal efforts to regulate noncompete agreements:

The state legislative activity also comes as the Federal Trade Commission considers nationwide regulation to limit noncompetes—a process still in the research stage, Beck said. President Joe Biden called on the FTC last July to ban or limit employee noncompetes as part of a sweeping executive order aimed at improving competition in the economy.

In the article, Russell also addresses the national influence of model legislation to reform noncompete agreements that was published last year by the non-partisan Uniform Law Commission:

Release of the commission’s model should help motivate more states to establish clear standards for enforceability of noncompetes, as well as similar covenants such as nonsolicitation agreements, said Beck, who helped write that sample bill.

Business groups have an incentive to want clear, uniform standards, he said, since now many states’ courts determine whether noncompetes are enforceable on a case-by-case basis relying on common law. But don’t expect a rush of states suddenly all adopting the model language, he added.

“It won’t be overnight. It will take years” to potentially get to a majority of states adopting some version of the model, Beck said. “States are really taking a careful look at their current laws.”

Russell notes that the jury is still out as to whether regulations to limit enforcement of noncompete agreements has any measurable, positive impact on wages and other economic activity:

The success of existing state laws at preventing overuse or abuse of employee noncompetes is tough to measure, Beck and Farley each said.

Research into Oregon’s ban on noncompetes for low-wage workers—published by University of Maryland Professor Evan Starr and FTC Economist Michael Lipsitz—found the law might have helped produce a small boost to wage growth and job mobility. But Beck noted it’s hard to be sure whether the noncompete law was the main cause of those economic impacts.

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Russell frequently writes about current legislative efforts to regulate noncompete agreements. He was featured on NPR and quoted in the New York Times discussing federal regulatory efforts targeting noncompete agreements. In April 2020, Russell Beck and Erika Hahn’s article about the FTC’s investigation about whether it should regulate noncompetes was published by Law360. In July 2019, Law360 published Russell Beck’s analysis of misconceptions in the noncompete debate.

For up-to-the-minute analysis of legal issues concerning trade secrets and noncompete agreements in Massachusetts and across the United States, read Russell Beck’s blog, Fair Competition Law.

eck Reed Riden LLP is among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience.

The Wall Street Journal featured Beck Reed Riden LLP’s noncompete agreement experience. In 2016, the White House issued a report entitled, “Non-Compete Agreements: Analysis of the Usage, Potential Issues, and State Responses,” relying in part on Beck Reed Riden LLP’s research and analysis, including its 50 State Noncompete Survey.

Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized, and includes:

  • Over thirty working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters
  • Assisting the Obama White House as part of a small working group to develop President Obama’s Noncompete Call to Action
  • Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (6th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2021), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete matters
  • Authoring the book Trade Secrets Law for the Massachusetts Practitioner (1st ed. MCLE 2019), covering trade secrets nationally, with a focus on Massachusetts law
  • Drafting and advising on legislation for the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law
  • Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law
  • Founding and administering the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law
  • Establishing and administering the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 1,660 and 870 members, respectively, around the world
  • Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm

In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2020 Chambers USA Guide, which stated that Russell Beck is “an expert in the field of trade secret and restrictive covenant law,” and is also noted for his “ability to adjust and come up with successful solutions.” Chambers noted that Russell “basically wrote the new Massachusetts statute on noncompetes” and that “he’s an expert in employee mobility and nonrestrictive covenants.”

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and employment.

We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.