Law360 has agreed to stop making editorial employees sign non-compete agreements.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation was prompted by a young reporter who lost the job she had left Law360 for after the legal newswire informed her new employer that she had signed a non-compete agreement, which stated that she would not work at any competitor for a year.
The practice of making staffers sign non-competes is meant to protect a company’s proprietary information, a hard case to argue about entry-level reporters, and, in a frequently precarious industry, puts employees at a clear disadvantage.
“Unless an individual has highly unique skills or access to trade secrets, non-compete clauses have no place in a worker’s employment contract,” Schneiderman in a statement. “Unscrupulous non-compete agreements not only threaten workers seeking to change jobs, they also serve as a veiled threat to employers who may be reluctant to hire candidates due to the mere existence of a non-compete agreement. Workers like the reporters at Law360 should be able to change jobs and advance their careers without fear of being sued by their prior employer.”
The terms of the completely voluntary settlement agreement, LexisNexis subsidiary Law360 will no longer make new editorial employees sign non-compete agreements (high-level executives can still be asked to sign). Additionally, the ban will no longer be in effect for current and former employees who would otherwise still be impacted by it.
The News Guild of New York released a statement supporting the settlement but calling for a ban on all non-compete agreements.
“The settlement instantly liberates dozens of journalists from legal shackles that were unfairly stifling their careers,” the Guild said in a statement. “The settlement is a good start, but it would be better still if the New York State Legislature simply banned non-compete agreements for print and digital journalists, as it has already done for broadcast journalists.”