Governor Deval Patrick on Thursday will propose sweeping legislation to make it easier for workers in technology, life sciences, and other industries to move from job to job by banning the noncompete agreements companies use to prevent employees from jumping to rivals.
The proposal is certain to inflame a battle within the state’s business community between larger, established corporations that say noncompete agreementsprevent former employees from spreading business secrets and venture capitalists who contend they stifle innovation and undermine the state’s reputation as a haven for startups.
“We feel like noncompetes are a barrier to innovation in Massachusetts,” said Greg Bialecki, secretary of Housing and Economic Development.
The administration's proposal is modeled after California’s, one of the few states to ban noncompete clauses in employment contracts. That state’s business regulations essentially declare the clauses in employment contracts void, and California courts have largely declined to enforce them in legal disputes.
“When you look at California, the big and small tech companies out there have clearly figured out a way to do business without compromising intellectual property,” Bialecki said. “Not only are they doing well, they’re doing fabulously.”
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