Bill limiting non-competition agreements signed

STATE HOUSE — A ceremonial signing was held recently for new law sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and House Deputy Majority Whip Christopher R. Blazejewski that makes non-competition agreements unenforceable against hourly and low-wage employees as well as children and college students.

The legislation (2019-S 0698A2019-H 6019A) is intended as a way to help employees find other employment when they leave a job.

Noncompetition agreements are meant to place limits on an employee’s activities such as working for a competitor, often for a period of months or years after they have left their job.

Such agreements have a chilling effect on employees’ ability to seek other work in their field.

“Hourly workers, low-wage employees and people who are just starting out should not be hindered from finding a new job when they leave or lose another. They need to keep working. A former employer should not have the right to place any restrictions on them that make it hard for them to land another job, especially in a field where they have experience. Noncompete agreements are one more roadblock that can contribute to keeping poor people poor, and they should not be allowed to be used in that way,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

The legislation makes such agreements unenforceable against non-salaried employees, employees who make less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, children under 18 and both undergraduate and graduate students.

“There’s simply no justification for noncompete agreements for employees who are nowhere near the top of the corporate ladder. This legislation will help workers get back to work after job loss and protect them from being unfairly forced to sit on the sidelines without a paycheck when they are ready and willing to work,” said Representative Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence).

The signing was held at the Rudolph Tavares Community Center Gym in Providence.

“Noncompetes that target low-wage workers restrict economic mobility and hamper employees’ ability to negotiate for better working conditions,” said Governor Raimondo. “They run contrary to the belief at the heart of our economic approach: that everyone deserves a fair shot at a good job.  This bill will eliminate a barrier that unfairly hurt Rhode Islanders.”

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