Assistant House Democratic Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) on Tuesday called on the State Legislature to repeal what she called Idaho’s “draconian non-compete statute.”
The law, which amended Idaho Code 44-2704, passed in 2016.
As amended, the statute requires Idaho courts to find that employers who hold non-compete agreements suffer “irreparable harm” when an employee takes a job with a competitor -– regardless of whether any actual harm occurs.
Supporters contend the law has a “stifling effect on start-ups and business growth,” in Idaho. More than 100 business leaders and investors from across the state have signed a letter which was delivered to the Governor “Butch” Otter and House and Senate Leadership Tuesday, calling for the 2016 amendments to be repealed.
“When the law passed in 2016, there just wasn’t much attention given to the issue -- or understanding -- of the risks created by the bill. Most business owners and entrepreneurs didn’t even know about it until after the law passed,” Rubel said. “Since then, the law has gotten a lot of negative coverage and people are much more aware of the problems it creates for employees and entrepreneurs in Idaho.”
Unfortunately for Idaho, much of that negative attention played out in the national press, supporters said. A July 17, 2017 issue of Inc.com was headlined: “Have a Great Startup Idea? Don’t Move to Idaho.” Similar negative stories about Idaho’s non-compete law were printed in the mid-July issues of the New York Times and the American Institute for Economic Research.
“Any law that stifles business growth and encourages entrepreneurs to leave the state is not good for Idaho,” Rubel stated. “It also hurts families because workers don’t have the freedom to find a better, high-paying job for fear of getting sued. No one should have to endure a lawsuit in order to start a business or take a better job.”