California Strikes Down Non-Competes

By Deane Barker on August 10, 2008

State Supreme Court rejects noncompete clauses: I’m encouraged by this.

Californians have the right to move from one company to another or start their own business and can’t be prohibited by their employer from working for a competitor in their next job, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

For some reason, non-competes are huge in the Web development industry, and I’ve never believed in them. I don’t like the idea of exerting force on someone (in the form of an inability to work somewhere else) to get them to work for me, and I’m frustrated when there’s someone I’m interested in that I can’t hire because they have a binding non-compete.

Note that there’s a fine line — I don’t want anyone stealing clients or taking trade secrets. But if one of my employees sincerely feels that another job is right for them, would I want them to stay just because they have no choice?

Put another way, if your people srill work for you only because of the non-compete they signed, and no other reason, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your business.