Happy New Year!  All of us at at the Firm took a couple of weeks off to enjoy our families and the holiday season.   We hope you did as well.

This first week of the year was looking a little light in workplace news until the end of the week when two interesting pieces of news dropped.

First, on Thursday the FTC issued a proposed rule banning non-compete agreements.

I have written before about how I don’t like non-compete agreements.  As attorneys that represent employees we see how harmful they are to people looking to leave a job or find a new one after a layoff or termination.  In most states, otherwise valid non-compete agreements apply regardless of whether an employee leaves on her own or is terminated through no fault of her own.  Enforcing a non-compete in the latter instance seems particularly punitive but employers regularly do it and courts allow it.

The FTC estimates that 1 in 5 employees are bound by a non-compete and that these agreements limit workers earnings.

Now before we get too excited, there are already a LOT of objections to the proposed rule-both substantively and procedurally.  Those opposed to the draft rule say that businesses need non-competes to protect their interests.  Other groups claim the FTC does not have the authority to pass a rule like this and that any such ban must be left to the legislature-which as we saw this weekend is pretty much a circus and incapable of agreeing on anything.

For now non-competes are valid so long as they are “reasonable.”  In Illinois we do have some limits-for instance as we delved into in this post, Illinois courts have held that without additional consideration an employee cannot be bound by a non-compete if she has worked for a company for less than two years.  Note:  this is a very nuanced area and it’s best to seek legal advice before assuming an agreement you signed is not valid.

Additionally, in 2016, the Illinois legislature passed a law which prohibited employers from binding minimum wage workers to non-competes.  That law was expanded this year to ban the agreements for anyone earning $75,000 or less.

If the FTC rule gains any traction I will update here but I think it will be a long time before we see any real movement on it.

The second piece of interesting news is that a police officer in Philadelphia filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and hostile work environment after her co-worker repeatedly took his pants off in the office.  I’m telling you, you can’t make this stuff up.  Apparently, the co-worker often chose to change pants out in the open office rather than the bathroom or locker room.  The plaintiff in that case apparently attached video evidence to her complaint showing the co-worker de-pantsing and claimed these actions made her working environment uncomfortable and hostile.  While I suppose there are two sides to every story, I think she may have a point.

Have a great week!