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On Tuesday this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its highly anticipated final rule on noncompetes, imposing a near-total ban on worker noncompetes in the United States. Barring injunctive relief from legal challenges (which have already started), the rule will take effect 120 days from publication in the federal register.

Interestingly, the rule exempts noncompete covenants entered into pursuant to a bona fide sale of a business. While “bona fide” is not defined in the final rule, the Supplementary Information for the rule explains that the FTC considered but rejected percentage and dollar minimum thresholds for the sale of business exception to weed out “exploitative and coercive” noncompetes and clarified that excepted noncompetes must be given “pursuant to a bona fide sale.” The Supplementary Information further explains that the FTC considers a bona fide sale to be one that is made between two independent parties at arm’s length, and in which the seller has a reasonable opportunity to negotiate the terms of the sale. In contrast, the FTC specifically calls out as problematic “springing noncompetes,” which apply to employees in the event of a sale and mandatory stock redemption or repurchase programs because the employee has no goodwill to exchange in the sale for the noncompete and no meaningful opportunity to negotiate at the time of contracting.

Nevertheless, the bona fide sale exception is broad and preserves the status quo by allowing buyers in M&A transactions to obtain noncompetes from individual sellers in circumstances where such noncompetes are otherwise permitted currently. While the pending and anticipated legal challenges to the rule are significant and place the entire rule in jeopardy, the sale of business exception is not likely to be narrowed because of these challenges.

So, what does this new regime mean for M&A?

What Type of Noncompetes Are Impacted?

The Supplementary Information confirms that the new rule does not apply to B2B noncompetes or nonsolicits. Instead, the focus of the rule is noncompetes with workers that limit their ability to work for others. So the rule does not impact current B2B agreements.

Second, the FTC repeatedly makes the point that noncompetes must meet existing state and federal law restrictions (e.g., reasonable in scope and duration; limited to the goodwill to be acquired, etc.) to be enforceable, even if they otherwise fall within the sale of business exception in the new rule. This is the case because the FTC rule creates a new floor for noncompetes by preempting more lax state rules, but it does not preempt more stringent state laws or federal antitrust restrictions.Continue Reading Still Going Strong: M&A Noncompetes and the FTC’s Final Rule on Noncompetes

On April 23, the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-2 to issue its final rule on noncompetes, imposing a near-total ban on all employer-employee noncompetes in the US. Barring challenges (the first lawsuits have already been filed), the rule would become effective 120 days from publication.

The rule will be a game-changer for companies operating in the US if it takes effect as issued.

Breaking it Down

What does the rule do?

With only a few exceptions, the FTC’s now-final rule declares employer-employee noncompete clauses an “unfair method of competition,” and a violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The rule targets both formal noncompete clauses and “functional noncompete” clauses that have the effect of prohibiting the worker from seeking or accepting employment with a person or operating a business after the conclusion of the worker’s employment with the employer. This can include broad nondisclosure agreements that have the effect of precluding workers from seeking employment opportunities in the same field.Continue Reading Breaking News: The FTC Bans Nearly All Employer-Employee Noncompetes Except Those Given as Part of a ‘Bona Fide’ Sale of Business

Combining the views of 600 senior in-house lawyers at multinational companies across four continents with the insights of Baker McKenzie experts in tax, employment and antitrust, the 7th Edition of our Global Disputes Forecast helps in-house counsel see around corners as they prepare for 2024. The forecast includes detailed predictions for disputes involving ESG, cybersecurity

Join us for our virtual New York 2023-2024 Employment Law Update on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 at 1 pm ET.

In this 60-minute session, our team will highlight what employers in New York and the surrounding areas need to know to effectively navigate 2024, with practical tips to handle the latest developments including:

  • The shifting

It’s been a demanding year in New York for employers. New York employers have had to continuously pivot to meet obligations under new laws and requirements in 2022, with no end in sight as we step into 2023. From New York’s new electronic monitoring law, to New York City’s salary and pay range disclosure requirements, to the newly-delayed enforcement of NYC’s automated employment decision tools law (a brief sigh of relief for employers), new laws are certain to make for a busy 2023 for New York employers. Here are 10 changes employers should know now as we get the ball rolling in 2023.

1. NYC Employers Using Automated Employment Decision Tools Now Have Until April 15, 2023 to Meet New Obligations  

The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) granted New York City employers a happy holiday by announcing a delay of enforcement of its automated employment decision tools law (Local Law 144 of 2021) until April 15, 2023.

Until the announcement, New York City employers who use artificial intelligence in employment decision-making were faced with new requirements beginning January 1, 2023–including a prohibition against using automated employment decision tools (AEDTs) unless they took a number of specific steps prior to doing so, not the least of which would be conducting a bias audit of their AEDTs.

Proposed Rules

On December 15, 2022, DCWP published revised proposed rules for Local Law 144, making several changes to initial proposed rules published by DCWP September 23, 2022.

The initial proposed rules defined or clarified some terms (including “independent auditor,” “candidate for employment,” and “AEDT”), set forth the form and requirements of the bias audit, and provided guidance on notice requirements. 

After comments from the public on the initial proposed rules, and after a November 4, 2022 public hearing, the DCWP modified the proposed rules, with changes including:

  • Modifying the definition of AEDT (according to DCWP, “to ensure it is focused”);
  • Clarifying that an “independent auditor” may not be employed or have a financial interest in an employer or employment agency seeking to use or continue to use an AEDT, or in a vendor that developed or distributed the AEDT;
  • Revising the required calculation to be performed where an AEDT scores candidates;
  • Clarifying that the required “impact ratio” must be calculated separately to compare sex categories, race/ethnicity categories, and intersectional categories;
  • Clarifying the types of data that may be used to conduct a bias audit;
  • Clarifying that multiple employers using the same AEDT can rely upon the same bias audit as long as they provide historical data (if available) for the independent auditor to consider in such bias audit; and
  • Clarifying that an AEDT may not be used if its most recent bias audit is more than one year old.

DCWP will hold a second public hearing on the proposed rules on January 23, 2022.

For more on the law, see our recent blog Happy Holidays! Enforcement of New York City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools Law Delayed to April 15, 2023.

2. New York Employers with “No Fault” Attendance Policies Subject to Penalties for Disciplining Employees Who Take Protected Leave

Beginning February 20, 2023, New York employers with absence control policies who discipline employees for taking protected leave under any federal, state or local law will be subject to penalties.

Signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on November 21, 2022, S1958A (which amends Section 215 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL)) targets employer policies that attempt to control employee absences by assessing points or “demerits” or docking time from a leave bank when an employee is absent, regardless of whether or not the absence is permissible under applicable law. The amendment prohibits employers in New York from taking these actions when employees take a legally protected absence. Though the law does not prohibit attendance policies that include a penalty point system, legally protected absences cannot be used to deduct from these point systems.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against any employee that makes a complaint that the employer violated the law, and violations can come with sizable penalties. In addition to enforcement by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), NYLL Section 215 provides a private cause of action for current and former employees to recover monetary damages from employers who have violated Section 215. Monetary damages include back pay, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees in addition to civil penalties that can be issued by NYSDOL of up to $10,000 for the first violation and $20,000 for repeat violations.

Employer Takeaways

  • Employers who currently have policies that assess points or demerits against employees for taking absences under applicable law should review and update the policies to be compliant with the law.
  • Employers should train HR professionals, managers and supervisors on the new law.

3. Employers Must Provide Pay Ranges in Job Postings under New York City Pay Transparency Law Now–and under New York State Pay Transparency Law Beginning September 17, 2023

New York City employers are already feeling the impact of having to meet the requirements of New York City’s new pay transparency law (Local Law 32 and its amendment), which went into effect on November 1, 2022. Now, employers all across New York State will also have to comply with salary transparency requirements. Governor Hochul signed New York State’s salary transparency bill (S9427A) into law on December 21, 2022. Employers should begin to prepare now for the law’s September 17, 2023 effective date.

Covered employers

New York City’s law requires New York City employers with four or more employees (with at least one working in New York City) to disclose salary and hourly ranges in any advertisements for jobs, promotions, or transfer opportunities. (See our prior blogs here and here–and for a deeper look at salary and pay range disclosure requirements in job postings across the US, watch our video Employers: All Eyes on Salary and Pay Range Disclosure in US Job Postings).

Similar to New York City’s law, New York State’s law also requires employers with four or more employees to include a compensation range in all advertisements for new jobs, promotions and transfer opportunities. It’s not clear at this time whether all four employees must be employed within New York State, or whether an employer is covered even if employees are located elsewhere. The New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) is authorized to promulgate regulations to clarify the law, and it is anticipated that guidance will be issued before the law’s effective date.

Employment agencies and recruiters–but not temporary employment agencies–are also covered by each law.

Continue Reading Top 10 New York Employment Law Updates: Closing Out 2022 and Heading Into 2023

As a result of the pandemic, many companies have been forced to consider layoffs and furloughs. In this video, our Labor and Employment attorneys discuss how employers should approach such cost-cutting measures to ensure they are not discriminatory and to avoid allegations of differential treatment.

Click here to watch the video.

This webinar recording takes a look back at 2020 and prepares employers for what’s on the horizon in 2021. Our presenters review COVID-19 and its continued impact on the workforce, diversity and inclusion considerations, what to expect under the Biden Administration, and a update on recent New York laws.

Please click here to view this

We are excited to invite you to our New York Employer Update on January 21, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET.

2020 posed unprecedented challenges for New York employers. We know that in addition to keeping your employees safe and maintaining business continuity, it has been difficult to keep track of the rapidly changing

Welcome to Baker McKenzie’s new Labor & Employment video chat series for US employers, The Employer Rapport. Our lawyers will provide quick, practical tips on today’s most pressing issues for US employers navigating the new normal. The videos complement our blog, The Employer Report, which provides written legal updates and practical insights about

America’s political divisions seem to be deepening. And, what’s troubling for employers is that our polarized political climate appears to be affecting employee productivity significantly, according to research by Gartner. According to a nationwide survey in February, 47% of employees reported that debate surrounding the 2020 elections is impacting their ability to get work done.