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Workers Deserve Better Than Marco Rubio’s Woeful Noncompete Clause Bill

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This week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has taken to talk shows and Twitter to promote his newly filed Freedom to Compete Act, which would ban the use of noncompete agreements for certain low-wage workers. It’s a smart move for him to talk about an issue with potential bipartisan appeal. After all, allowing people to move to new jobs and having a free labor market should be something we can all agree on. When employers limit that mobility, it threatens innovation and economic growth. Sadly, though, Rubio’s bill is little more than window dressing and falls far short of what is needed to protect workers’ freedom to change jobs.

Noncompetes have traditionally been used for high-ranking employees to prevent them from taking trade secrets or confidential information to a competitor, but an increasing number of employers (nearly 20 percent, according to a recent study) are using noncompetes to keep a broader range of employees in place.

As former government lawyers, we’ve spoken with many low and moderate wage employees subject to noncompetes: fast-food workers, custodians, receptionists, customer service representatives, nurses, and health care aides, among others. The Rubio bill would ban noncompetes for a mere fraction of these workers because it links coverage to federal overtime eligibility, which currently exempts a significant number of workers. While the bill might........

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