This month I read a summary of accolades for my home – the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- Best State for Business (6/50) – Forbes Magazine
- Top State Business Climate (6/50)
- Top State for Business (13/50) – CNBC
What does all this mean? Well practically speaking, what is a good business climate is – cheap workers, low taxes and laws that protect corporations.
Hmm… so the question then becomes, if the laws are written to protect corporations, what does that mean for employees of those corporations? And in a nut shell, current Virginia law has the following impact:
- Non competes that are reasonable and enforceable;
- Even if your non-compete is not reasonable, your company can sue you and try to enforce it – there is nothing you can do in response and will not likely be able to recover your attorneys fees, etc.;
- We are an at-will state which means you can be fired for any reason at any time (but for age, gender, race or religion);
- We are a right to work state which means you cannot be forced to join a union (which traditionally means unions have less bargaining power with corporations);
- Corporate taxes are on the lower end, but employment taxes (what employee pays) are higher – so individuals bare the burden (compared to Florida where there is no state employment tax for employees);
- Many business tort duties exist so employees may be prohibited from starting competing businesses, even without employment contracts;
- No additional consideration (money or vacation) is needed for an employees’ non compete to be valid (and they can ask you to sign years into your employment); and
- Most contracts are not term contracts, they still reflect your at will status, so even though employee may think they have guaranteed employment for X years, they rarely do.
So, while I love living in the Commonwealth (natural beauty, reasonable cost of living in some places, culture, food, beaches and mountains) it is important to know what OPEN FOR BUSINESS means. It means, the businesses can profit, but often at the expense of employees and more progressive rules and laws that would protect the little guy as well.