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« A two-word corporate blogging policy | Main | Are noncompetes the new Sarbanes-Oxley? »


Evil HR Lady

I find this fascinating. As a general rule, my company stays away from non-competes because we want our competitors to do the same.

Otherwise, none of us would be able to hire anyone.

Charles H. Green

I suspect non-compete agreements are a trailing indicator of greed and excess in financial markets. They reflect the latter stages of over-zealous, combative, testosterone-driven roll-the-dice business models. I suspect (haven't done the data, can't prove it) that they'll die off with a good healthy recession, just like the rest of the bubble.

The truth is, non-competes are flat-out regressive measures.

If there's anything we can say about the emerging economy, it's that everything's more connected. Relationships drive transactions, while focus on trasnactions just kill relationships. Collaboration is the new competitive advantage. And developing human resources is supposed to be a good thing, right?

All that is given the lie when a company forces non-competes on those leaving. It says, in about as succinct way as one can, that we don't give a damn about you personally; you only have value to us as a current employee. Worse yet, your leaving is an act of disloyalty, and shall be punished many-fold.

Non-competes basically have two results: they piss people off, and force retaliatory behavior. Not exactly smart in an increasingly collaborative age.

In the consulting business in the 80s and 90s, they were widely used, and widely acknowledged to be legally toothless. Which means they're little more than aggressive, nasty posturing.

The truth is, if the guy leaving is so hot, why couldn't you figure out how to keep him? The lesson that needs learning is not to punish your alumni, but to learn why you lost them.

Bryan Price

I've signed exactly one non-compete in my life, and I hope it's the last. I can't blame my employer for doing so, we were trying to do the .com thing before there was a .com. But when I did quit, there was absolutely no way I was going to do anything at all remotely to do with the software or that industry (Auto parts). It was a badly written non-compete, and would have been severely modified if it had gotten to court, if not thrown out entirely.

And after I left, the company fell apart anyway. Moot point. I just went from writing applications to supporting networks (which I had been doing before, it just wasn't considered part of my job. ;) ) And despite how badly that job termination went, I was still being asked technical questions 5 years later.


Non-competes are here at the blue collar level of the economy too.

I turned down a parts job because of a non-compete. It was amazingly broad in scope.

I couldn't sign it. Two years of not doing any job remotely related to it in all fifty states, and it didn't matter what I did next, I'd have to report everything I did to em'. The loss of all my intellectual property rights for what looked like forever wasn't exactly desirable either.

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