DC Passes Broad Ban on Non-Competes

On January 11, 2021, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2019, perhaps the broadest ban on non-compete employment agreements in the country. The bill, with a few narrow exceptions, would  invalidate non-compete agreements entered into after the law goes into effect, and includes an anti-retaliation provision meant to protect employees who exercise their rights under this law.

The bill bars Washington, D.C. employers from requiring that employees sign a non-compete agreement, defined as “a provision of a written agreement between an employer and an employee that prohibits the employee from being simultaneously or subsequently employed by another person, performing work or providing services for pay for another person, or operating the employee’s own business.” As written, the law would also prohibit bans on “moonlighting” for a competitor while employed, provided that the work is not otherwise unlawful and does not violate any other agreements between the employee and the primary employer.

The narrow exceptions to this ban includes volunteers, casual babysitters, certain members of religious organizations, and “medical specialists” – licensed physicians who have completed a medical residency and earn at least $250,000 annually.

The anti-retaliation section of the bill provides protections for employees who ask questions about a non-compete policy, or fail to comply with a now-unlawful non-compete policy.

Before becoming effective, the law must go through a 30-day congressional review period, and the D.C. government must fund other parts of the law, which likely will not occur until October 2021.  The law is nevertheless excellent news for D.C. employees whose careers will no longer be limited by broad restrictions on their ability to seek other employment.

Read the full bill here.