This month, the Virginia General Assembly returns to work in Richmond. A reader contacted us about House Bill 1187 sponsored by Delegate Patrick Hope (D- Arlington) significantly restricting non-compete agreements throughout the state.
Here’s a summary of the pending legislation:
Non-competition agreements. Makes unlawful any contract that serves to restrict an employee or former employee from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind. Exceptions are created for persons selling a business, former partners in a partnership, and former members in a limited liability company, who agree to refrain from carrying on a similar business within a specified geographic area in which the original entity carries on business.
Basically, the law would invalidate non-compete provisions as a matter of law in Virginia, with exceptions for business sales and partnerships.
This is wonderful news for Virginia employees, as HB 1187 would advance the cause of entrepreneurs in Virginia. Further, it would be the most progressive non-compete law on the East Coast. California law has similar force but there’s is common law (created by judges) and not codified.
My thoughts on HB1187:
- Business would improve for the better, forcing employers to care for their employees and not simply restrain them with threats of litigation
- Entrepreneurs would move to Virginia, similar to Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s, knowing their skills and labor would be protected.
- Creativity, innovation, and new jobs would flourish.
I am so pleased to see someone stepping in to this area and trying to make a difference. I can introduce you to hundreds of Virginians who had to chose between (a) following their dreams or (b) taking a job they do not want for fear of litigation.
Sadly, it will never pass without more support. Current members of the General Assembly are unlikely to do what is right for Virginia when businesses pay for their re-election campaigns. Our “pro-business” governor would never permit his party to the support the measure.
If you have a non-compete, or have been affected, discouraged, or thwarted by one, I would encourage you to call your delegate or state senator to support this legislation. Currently, it is pending the Labor and Commerce Committee, so contact the following members:
Terry Kilgore, Harry Purkey, Kathy Byron, R. Lee Ware, Jr., Timothy Hugo, Thomas Rust, Daniel Marshall, III, Benjamin Cline, Jackson Miller, Donald Merricks, G. Manoli Loupassi, Robert Bell, Barbara Comstock, Greg Habeeb, Joseph Johnson, Jr., Johnny Joannau, Kenneth Alexander, Jennifer McClellan, Jeion Ward, Lynwood Lewis, Jr., Rosyln Tyler
I hope I am wrong. I hope this bill has a chance of making it out of committee. Perhaps in this time of economic crisis, our representatives will learn that these contracts force people to leave our state all the time – and seek employment elsewhere; that the driving force of our economy is small business, and if employees are forbidden from starting new businesses, the whole of the economy suffers; that young talent will be drawn to a state where they can create, grow and experiment; and most importantly, the only folks who benefit from non-compete agreements in Virginia – are lawyers like me who litigate them!
So take a few minutes to email or call your representative to share your thoughts on HB 1187.