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Making $15 or Less in Maryland? Non-Competes are a No Go

Maryland law now prohibits non-compete agreements for workers who make less than $15 an hour.  Under the new law, a non-compete provision restricting a worker making $15 an hour from going to work for a competitor is void and against public policy in the state.  The law does not prohibit employers from restricting these workers from taking or using client lists or other proprietary information from their current employer.  This means a quick service restaurant (“QSR”) could enter into an agreement with a $15 per hour worker prohibiting him or her from taking the secret recipe to the store’s hamburger but could not prohibit the worker from working for the QSR down the street.

While this law is only in Maryland, it does support courts and legislatures continued dislike of restrictive covenant and non-compete agreements.  In these cases, courts routinely favor the employee over the employer unless the agreement is drafted narrowly to protect the real interests of the employer rather than everything under the sun.  When employers get too carried away, the court may just throw out the entire agreement altogether.  

Even if your company is not in Maryland, employers of low wage workers will be hard pressed to enforce blanket non-compete agreements because they prohibits these workers from earning a livelihood and supporting their family.  Courts generally believe low compensated employees have few options for jobs and such restrictions are therefore patently unreasonable.  Simply put, courts do not tend to favor enforcement when the worker is not highly paid. 

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on employment agreements, covenants not to compete, and employment litigation in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.

Additionally, if this article generated any additional questions for you, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com.  We may address your question in a future blog post.