Massachusetts law about noncompetition agreements

A compilation of laws, cases and web sources on employee noncompetition law by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.149, § 24L (added by St.2018, c.228, § 21) Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act
(applies to employee noncompetition agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018)

The following laws prohibit noncompetition agreements for certain professions:

Selected case law

Boulanger v. Dunkin' Donuts, Inc. , 442 Mass. 635 (2004)
Under the circumstances, "covenants not to compete signed by the plaintiff as part of his franchise agreements with the defendant were enforceable."

F. A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company vs. Barrington , 353 Mass. 585 (1968)
This case sets the standard for the material change doctrine "where it appeared that after working under that contract for some years the salesman's remuneration and sales area were changed substantially..."

Invidia, LLC v. DiFonzo  (Mass. Superior Court, Middlesex, Oct. 22, 2012), Memorandum of Decision and Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Wilson, Paul D., J.)
Hairdresser posting news of job change on Facebook is not solicitation of former employer's customers

Marine Contractors Co., Inc. v. Hurley , 365 Mass. 280 (1974)
"Agreement not to compete with Marine was reasonable in time and space."

All Stainless, Inc. v. Colby , 364 Mass. 773 (1974)
"A covenant not to compete contained in a contract for personal services will be enforced if it is reasonable, based on all the circumstances."

Richmond Brothers, Inc. v. Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., Inc. , 357 Mass. 106 (1970)
An employer is not entitled to protection against ordinary competition

Novelty Bias Binding Co. v. Shevrin , 342 Mass. 714 (1961)
"It has been long settled in this Commonwealth that a covenant inserted in a contract for personal service restricting trade or competition or freedom of employment is not invalid and may be enforced in equity provided it is necessary for the protection of the employer, is reasonably limited in time and space, and is consonant with the public interest. What is reasonable depends on the facts in each case."

New England Tree Expert Co., Inc. v. Russell , 306 Mass. 504 (1940)
"It is settled in this Commonwealth that such contracts are divisible and will not be enforced as to any parts of the covenant that are not reasonably necessary for the protection of the good will of the employer's business. ... What is reasonable depends upon the facts in each case"

Web sources

A brief history of non-compete laws in Massachusetts , BostInno.com, April 10, 2014
Outlines the history of non-compete agreements from 1711 through 2014

An explanation on covenants not to compete in Massachusetts , Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Citizen Information Service

Fair competition law , Beck Reed Riden LLP
The focus here is broader than just noncompetition, and includes trade secrets, privacy and security, intellectual property and unfair competition. It is also not specific to Massachusetts, but provides substantive resources on the topic, including 50-state surveys.

Massachusetts legislature passes long-awaited non-compete law, Bowditch, August 2, 2018.
Outlines the provisions of the 2018 law restricting non-competition agreements by employers

Massachusetts noncompete law blog , Foley Hoag
"[F]ocuses on developments in Massachusetts in the areas of covenants not to compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements, trade secrets and the many related issues that arise when employees move between employers."

New Massachusetts law specifies requirements for noncompetition agreements, by David Fisher and Marissa Comart, September 26, 2018.
Outlines requirements for noncompetition agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018.

Non-compete laws: Massachusetts , Guryan, Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., 2014.
“A Q&A guide to non-compete agreements between employers and employees for private employers in Massachusetts. This Q&A addresses enforcement and drafting considerations for restrictive covenants such as post-employment covenants not to compete and non-solicitation of customers and employees. Federal, local or municipal law may impose additional or different requirements.”

Non-competes in Massachusetts: ten defenses, Conforto Law Group, 2016.
Lists 10 ways in which the enforceability of non-compete agreements may be challenged under Massachusetts law, with links to cases and statutes.

Print sources

13th Annual Business Litigation Conference , MCLE, 2014.
Section 5, "Noncompetition Agreements & Related Restrictive Covenants."

Covenants against competition in franchise agreements, ABA, 2012.

Drafting Employment Documents in Massachusetts , MCLE, loose-leaf.
Vol. II, p.1-26. See index, "Noncompetition clauses."

Massachusetts Employment Law , MCLE, loose-leaf.
Chapter 31, "Employee Noncompetition Agreements"

Negotiating, drafting, and enforcing noncompetition agreements and related restrictive covenants , MCLE, 2015

Noncompetition agreements , by Scott A. Holt, Barry M. Willoughby and William W. Bowser. Bureau of National Affairs, loose-leaf.

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: September 28, 2018

Feedback

Did you find what you were looking for on this webpage? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.

If you need to report child abuse, any other kind of abuse, or need urgent assistance, please click here.

Feedback