Radio stations use non-compete clauses in their employment agreements to stop talented “on the air” employees from leaving and going with a competitor. Courts regularly enforce these noncompete clauses if their restrictions are reasonable in scope, duration, and geographic range.
I think such agreements are just another unfair way to limit an ex-employee’s job prospects and some state legislatures agree. For example, New York enacted the Broadcast Employees Freedom to Work Act (BEFWA), which prohibits broadcast industry employers from including certain noncompete clauses in employment contracts.
The statute’s enactment was due in part to successful lobbying by prominent entertainment labor unions including the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA). AFTRA’s members testified at legislative committee hearings and sent hundreds of letters and emails in support of the statute to state legislators and New York Governor David A. Paterson.
A quick review of my local news reveals that Cummulus Media, an Atlanta based media company, recently laid off numerous employees from six local radio stations. I hope these employees don’t have to fight unfair and unenforceable non-compete contracts. If they do…I hope they win their fight.