The 2023 Colorado legislative session ended with the state significantly increasing employee protections through several laws that either created new protections or materially amended current protections.
The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) issued new guidance announcing her position that certain noncompete agreements violate the National Labor Relations Act. Citing McLaren Macomb, the General Counsel urged the Board to adopt her position regarding noncompete agreements, arguing that the Board already embraced a similarly restrictive standard for analyzing the lawfulness of severance agreements.
On May 11, 2023, the Minnesota Legislature agreed to a new law rendering void and unenforceable all future covenants not to compete, with limited exceptions for agreements entered into in connection with the sale or dissolution of a business. Following a final vote in the House and Senate, the law will be sent by Gov. Tim Walz for his signature. The law is written to take effect July 1, 2023, and to apply to contracts and agreements entered into on or after that date. With enactment, Minnesota will become the fourth state to impose a complete ban on employment-related noncompetes (joining California, Oklahoma and North Dakota).
The law prohibits any noncompete agreement with an employee or independent contractor that restricts the person from working for another business after termination of employment or independent contractor engagement regardless of a person’s income, with only two very limited carveouts for noncompetes agreed upon (1) during the sale of a business where the agreement prohibits the seller from carrying on a similar business within a reasonable geographical area for a reasonable period of time, or (2) in anticipation of the dissolution of a business where the dissolving partnership or entity agrees that all or any number of the partners, members, or shareholders will not carry on a similar business in a reasonable geographical area for a reasonable period of time. Subject to those limited exceptions, the law provides that any “covenant not to compete” contained in a contract is void and unenforceable. Importantly, a “covenant not to compete” does not include nondisclosure, confidentiality, trade secret, or non-solicitation agreements (including specifically those restricting the ability to use client or contact lists or restricting the solicitation of customers). Also, because “covenant not to compete” is defined in terms of prohibiting conduct “after termination of the employment,” the new law will not prohibit agreements that restrict an employee or independent contractor from working for another business while performing services for a business.
Employers should be careful before defaulting to Delaware choice of law for restrictive covenant agreements. Historically, Delaware law presented a good option, particular for Delaware entities. However, a series of court decisions out of that state have severely limited the advantages of that approach.
On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock signed Bill 22-1614 after it passed the Denver City Council the previous day by unanimous vote. With the Bill’s passage comes increased penalties and new requirements related to wage theft, specifically including joint liability for general contractors, effective upon publication.
Denver’s minimum wage ordinance imposes a current minimum wage of $17.29 per hour, and before Bill 22-1614 passed, the ordinance provided certain penalties for employers that did not pay their workers based on the designated minimum wage. Indeed, prior to the bill’s passing, Denver’s minimum wage ordinance allowed employees to file complaints to the City Auditor within one year of a violation and provided a private right of action for three years to employees to seek to recover unpaid wages plus 12% interest, $100 for each day the violation continued, and liquidated damages three times the amount of unpaid wages.
Colorado’s long-anticipated Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program is right around the corner for employee use — but employer requirements are already here. Effective January 1, 2023, employers have certain obligations under the FAMLI program, including notice requirements and upcoming premium payments. Below is a refresh on FAMLI program basics, an outline of current FAMLI program requirements, considerations for the upcoming months in preparation for 2024, and some additional information regarding private FAMLI programs.