Sorry Idaho, Employee Noncompetes Are a Scourge

“This is about companies protecting their assets in a competitive marketplace,” says the industry representative for the incumbents. NYTimes Conor Dougherty covers the use of employee noncompetes in Idaho as a weapon in the conflict between local existing companies and startups. Residing in a state (California) where noncompetes are toothless, I was surprised to read that research suggests 1 in 5 American workers are subject to a noncompete.

What’s crazy about Idaho’s law is how far it tips against the individual. As Conor writes, Idaho “shifted the burden from companies to employees, who must now prove they have “no ability to adversely affect the employer’s legitimate business interests.”” What a chilling effect!

I can imagine a very narrow use case where a specifically skilled employee who has been exposed to R&D work receives additional compensation for agreeing to not work at a set of named competitors for a limited period of time. But the application of these rules to the average worker is crazy.

“Rather than going on the defensive, because that’s what a noncompete is, just go on the offensive and create a great environment so that people want to stay with you,” he [enlightened Idaho employer] said. “That makes you a better company in the end.”

Hell ya!