Workers, beware! “It’s one thing to have a bump in the road and be in between jobs for a little while; it’s another thing to be prevented from doing the only thing you know how to do,” once you try to move on to another job. Noncompete contracts can keep you from gaining future employment, because it covers general skills and knowledge gained at your previous job. It’s the new way of keeping your earnings low and keeping you from seeking other employment, by signing away your right to get another job in this field.
How Noncompete Clauses Keep Workers Locked In
Restrictions once limited to executives are now spreading across the labor landscape – making it tougher for Americans to get a raise.
Noncompetes are but one factor atop a great mountain of challenges making it harder for employees to get ahead. Globalization and automation have put American workers in competition with overseas labor and machines. The rise of contract employment has made it harder to find a steady job. The decline of unions has made it tougher to negotiate. But the move to tie workers down with noncompete agreements falls in line with the decades-long trend in which their mobility and bargaining power has steadily declined, and with it their share of company earnings.
Companies have always owned their employees’ labor, but today’s employment contracts often cover general knowledge as well. In addition to noncompete clauses, there are nonsolicitation and nondealing agreements, which prevent employees from calling or servicing customers they have worked with in the past. There are nonpoaching agreements that prevent employees from trying to recruit old colleagues.
Put it all together, and suddenly some of the main avenues for finding a better-paying job — taking a promotion with a competitor, being recruited by an old colleague — are cut off.
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