By Kenneth J. Rossetti, Esq.
Many readers of this blog are either sales professionals bound by non-competition agreements ("noncompetes"), or employers of sales professionals who require their personnel to execute and comply with noncompetes both as a requirement of employment and as a post-employment condition intended to protect the business' confidential information, trade secrets, and good will (for a discussion of noncompetes in Massachusetts, please see this author's 6/9/09 article on this blog, entitled, "The ABCs of Noncompetes in Massachusetts").
While sales professionals and their employers in Massachusetts routinely deal with the conditions and enforcement of noncompetes, not all states enforce noncompetes; for example, California bars noncompetes.
This fact begs a question recently addressed by the Massachusetts Superior Court – what happens if an employee bound by a Massachusetts noncompete takes a position with a competitor in California, where noncompetes are unenforceable? Is the Massachusetts noncompete enforceable?
The Massachusetts Superior Court recently answered that question in the affirmative, in a case where the Court granted an injunction barring the departing employee, bound by a Massachusetts noncompete, from taking a position with a particular competitor in California, despite that state's bar on the enforcement of noncompetes. The departing employee, who had not yet moved to California to start the position he accepted with his prior employer's competitor, argued that California's bar on noncompetes trumped both the Massachusetts noncompete with his prior employer, and Massachusetts law upholding the enforcement of noncompetes.