October 17, 2019

Young and Murphy Introduce Bill to Limit Non-Compete Agreements, Protect Workers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced the Workforce Mobility Act, bipartisan legislation to limit the use of non-compete agreements that negatively impact American workers. Senator Young and Senator Murphy recently led a bipartisan Senate letter urging the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the use and abuse of non-competes.


An alarming 40 percent of American workers have been constrained by a non-compete agreement at some point in their careers. Non-competes often lack transparency and result in lower wages. Research indicates that workers trapped by non-competes are less mobile, which results in firms having difficulty hiring workers with the right set of skills. In states where non-competes are enforced, young firms are more likely to die in their first three years compared to states where they are not enforced.  


“Non-compete agreements stifle wage growth, career advancement, innovation, and business creation. Our bill aims to remove these barriers, and create opportunities that help, not hinder, Hoosier workers,” said Senator Young. “A complete reform of non-competes will empower our workers and entrepreneurs so they can freely apply their talents where their skills are in greatest demand.” 


“Non-compete agreements are economic and innovation killers. Too many employers hide these agreements in low-wage workers’ contracts, trapping them in low-paying jobs and preventing real competition. In Connecticut, it doesn’t matter if you’re working at a fast food restaurant or a tech startup, people want the freedom to change jobs and earn higher wages. This bill helps them do both,” said Senator Murphy.


The Workforce Mobility Act would:

  • Narrow the use of non-compete agreements to include only necessary instances of a dissolution of a partnership or the sale of a business.
  • Place the enforcement responsibility on the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Labor, as well as a private right of action.
  • Require employers to make their employees aware of the limitation on non-competes, as studies have found that non-competes are often used even when they are illegal or unenforceable. The Department of Labor would also be given the authority to make the public aware of the limitation.
  • Require the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Labor to submit a report to Congress on any enforcement actions taken.


The full bill text can be viewed here


What They Are Saying: 


John Lettieri, President and CEO of the Economic Innovation Group:“The widespread use of non-compete agreements harms the American economy by inhibiting worker mobility, depressing wage growth, impeding entrepreneurship, and stifling innovation. The Workforce Mobility Actwould be a major step in promoting a more open, competitive, and dynamic economy for all Americans. We applaud Senators Young and Murphy for their bipartisan leadership on this important issue.”


Jessica Fraser, Director of Indiana Institute for Working Families:“Coercive non-compete clauses keep hard-working Hoosiers from taking on new opportunities and realizing their full potential. We are grateful to Sen. Young for working on this issue and protecting every Hoosier’s chance at upward economic mobility.”  


Eli Lehrer, President, R Street Institute:“Non-compete agreements are unfair to workers, economically damaging for employers and undermine the efficient, effective functioning of labor markets everywhere. Anybody who cares about maintaining a functioning free market for workers and employers alike should oppose non-compete agreements.”