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New Jersey blue-collar employers turning to non-compete clauses

Many of our Morristown neighbors enjoy National Public Radio programming beamed out of Newark’s NPR station. The network recently aired an installment of its special series called Planet Money in which participants talked about a feature of white-collar employment contracts that is increasingly present in blue-collar job contracts: non-compete clauses.

As New Jersey employers know, these traditionally white-collar professionals contract clauses can help to protect valuable intellectual property and talent. As the labor market has improved in recent years, it is becoming more difficult for employers in some industries to fill open positions with qualified workers. Some employers today are hanging on to valuable blue-collar employees by requiring them to sign contracts containing the clauses as a condition of employment.

These legally binding agreements prevent workers from engaging in competitive behavior, or in other words, leaving Company A to go and work for Company B, which is Company A’s direct competition.

With low unemployment, some employees in some industries have become very valuable to employers. The NPR broadcast included a story of a security job who signed a contract with a noncompete clause in it. When the single dad left for a job with daycare benefits, his former employer sued. The new employer wound up letting the security guard go because of the violation of the non-compete agreement.

Panel members on the NPR program made the point that this kind of protective litigation is not about that one employee, but rather about protecting the business by making an example of the one wandering employee. The hiring process can be expensive and time-consuming – and it means a crucial position can be unfilled for significant amounts of time.

If you want to protect your business, contact a Morristown law firm known for not only effective employment litigation, but also for crafting employment contracts that can help your company avoid litigation.

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