State & Local Employment Law Developments: Q1/Q2 2020

State and local governments are increasingly regulating the workplace. In the first and second quarters of 2020 alone, legislatures were particularly active in passing laws addressing sexual harassment training, discrimination including hair discrimination, criminal background inquiries, salary history, and a variety of unpaid and paid leaves. Although it is not possible to discuss all state and local laws, this update provides an overview of recent and upcoming legislative developments to help you and your organization stay in compliance. (Please note that developments specifically related to COVID-19 are not included in this update.)

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With Pennsylvania Non-Competes, As in Life, Timing is Everything

In Pennsylvania, it has long been known that waiting until after the start of employment to have an employee sign a non-competition agreement comes with the real risk that the agreement will be unenforceable for lack of consideration.  Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court provided definitive guidance on the issue in Rullex Co., LLC v. Tel-Stream, Inc., et al., holding that a non-competition agreement entered into after an employee commences employment fails for lack of consideration unless the essential provisions of those restrictions were agreed to before the employee started work.

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Top Four Considerations for Employers Seeking to Enforce Restrictive Covenants During a Global Pandemic

The global coronavirus pandemic has had a multitude of effects on how employers conduct business and manage their workforces. But as employees start to return to work, employers must be mindful of how to address those who leave and potentially violate their noncompetition agreements. As we settle into the “new normal,” the Restrictive Covenant team with Faegre Drinker’s Labor & Employment group has identified four considerations for employers seeking to enforce restrictive covenants and protect trade secrets.

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Delaware Chancery Court Declines to Blue-Pencil Overly Broad Noncompete Agreement; Casts Doubt on Choice of Law Provisions

A recent Delaware Chancery Court opinion has elucidated Delaware’s approach to judicially modifying, or “blue-penciling,” overly broad noncompete agreements and deferring to parties’ choice of law provisions. The case, FP UC Holdings, LLC, et al. v. James W. Hamilton, Jr., et al., C.A. No. 2019-1029-JRS (Del Ch. Mar. 27, 2020), highlights the importance of drafting well-tailored restrictive covenants, and shows that even in Delaware – where employers often have been reassured by the safe harbor of courts’ relative willingness to blue-pencil problematic agreements and apply Delaware law to fact patterns that have developed in other states – employers must make careful drafting and choice of law decisions. It also emphasizes that if an employer’s intent is to litigate in Delaware, the employer should do so from the beginning, without acquiescing to another court’s jurisdiction.

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Part 25 of “The Restricting Covenant” Series: Disintermediation and Noncompetes

The most recent installment of the Restricting Covenant Series was inspired by the Jeopardy! tournament “The Greatest of All Time,” where champion Ken Jennings edged out two other competitors to win the million-dollar prize. So, for the crossword and quiz show enthusiasts, here is the clue in the form of an answer (and the subject of this article): This 17-letter word means to cut out the middleman in connection with a transaction.  Correct response: What is “disintermediation”?  What does disintermediation have to do with noncompete agreements?  Read on.

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Part 24 of “The Restricting Covenant” Series: Choice of Law and Covenants Not to Compete

There are many notable east coast-west coast rivalries.  In sports (Celtics versus Lakers basketball), in leisure (Atlantic versus Pacific beaches), or in food (Shake Shack versus In-N-Out Burger), to name a few.  With respect to restrictive covenants, the conflict between Delaware, which is generally considered a “pro-enforcement” jurisdiction, and California, which is generally considered an “anti-enforcement” jurisdiction, definitely stands out in the crowd.  This installment of the Restricting Covenant Series looks at the competing views of the Golden State and The First State’s on the enforceability of restrictive covenants, and the critical importance of conducting a “choice of law” analysis to settle this feud.

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