D.C. Ban on Employee Noncompetes Goes to Mayor for Signature

December 18, 2020

Under legislation headed to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the District of Columbia would bar employers from imposing noncompete clauses that block their employees, including highly paid executives, from going to work for a competitor.

The D.C. Council has approved a near-total ban on noncompetes, adopting a stricter approach on the issue than any other current state law.  The D.C. measure, if signed by the mayor, would only allow noncompetes for doctors who make more than $250,000 annually.

Eight states, including Maryland and Virginia, have enacted bans on noncompetes for low-wage workers since 2016, but with widely differing definitions of “low wage.”  Only three states—California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma—broadly ban enforcement of employee noncompete agreements.

Outlook:  Mayor Bowser is concerned the ban, along with other legislation the council is considering, would create more uncertainty for employers already struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, it would be rare for the mayor to veto a bill that was unanimously passed by the council, and the council will likely have enough votes to override a veto.