Erik W. Weibust, Member of the Firm in the Litigation & Business Disputes and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s Boston office, was quoted in Bloomberg Law, in “California Leads States in Probing Employers’ ‘No-Poach’ Pacts,” by Stephen Joyce.

Following is an excerpt:

State attorneys general are investigating how employers collude to prohibit workers from switching jobs through unlawful “no-poach” agreements. …

State Actions

State attorneys general in Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington state have pursued similar cases. At least 29 states have enacted laws that in some way protect employees from employer-imposed noncompete contracts and no-poach arrangements, according to Bloomberg Law data.

Some states, such as California (Business and Professions Code § 16600) and Oklahoma (Title 15 § 217), ban no-poach agreements entirely. Other states provide limited protections for certain types of workers, such as car-sales personnel (Louisiana) or lawyers (New Jersey).

State interest in no-poach agreements picked up after the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department in 2016 issued guidance saying enforcers should interpret federal antitrust statutes to extend to labor markets, and violations could result in criminal sanctions.

Erik Weibust, Epstein Becker & Green PC employment litigation specialist, said the continuing stream of cases by state enforcement authorities grabbed the attention of corporations and their executives. “Put it this way, I’ve heard a lot more from clients since the criminal cases have been reported on. It’s more real,” Weibust said.

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