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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 Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act

These laws ban noncompetition agreements for certain professions:

Executive orders

Executive Order on promoting competition in the American economy
"(g)  To address agreements that may unduly limit workers’ ability to change jobs, the Chair of the FTC is encouraged to consider working with the rest of the Commission to exercise the FTC’s statutory rulemaking authority under the Federal Trade Commission Act to curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility."

Selected case law

Automile Holdings, LLC v. McGovern, 483 Mass. 797 (2020)
An "anti-raiding" restrictive covenant is “only reasonable, and thus enforceable, if it is (1) necessary to protect a legitimate business interest, (2) reasonably limited in time and space, and (3) consonant with the public interest.”

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."

Eaton v. Veterans Inc., 435 F.Supp.3d 277 (2020)
A former employer cannot threaten legal action to enforce a non-compete in bad faith. 

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 isn’t entitled to protection from 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 ,, April 10, 2014
Outlines the history of non-compete agreements from 1711–2014

An explanation on covenants not to compete in Massachusetts, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Citizen Information Service, 2007.

Fair competition law, Beck Reed Riden LLP
This source focuses on more than just noncompetition, and includes trade secrets, privacy and security, intellectual property, and unfair competition. It’s not specific to Massachusetts, but provides substantive resources on the topic, including 50-state surveys, and The Changing Landscape of Trade Secrets Laws and Noncompete Laws Around the Country.

Massachusetts legislature passes long-awaited non-compete law, Bowditch, August 2, 2018.
Outlines the terms of the 2018 law that restricts 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 on or after October 1, 2018.

Non-competes in Massachusetts: ten defenses, Conforto Law Group, 2016.
Lists 10 ways that enforcing non-compete agreements can be challenged under Massachusetts law, with links to cases and statutes.

Non-competes in the workplace: Examining antitrust and consumer protection issues, FTC.  
Includes video, transcripts and related resources.

Print sources

18th Annual Business Litigation Conference, MCLE, 2019.
Section 3, "Noncompetition Agreements & Related Restrictive Covenants."

Business torts in Massachusetts, MCLE, loose-leaf. Chapter 8, “Non competition agreements and 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 24, "Employee Noncompetition Agreements"

Negotiating, drafting, and enforcing noncompetition agreements and related restrictive covenants, MCLE, 2021

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

What to do about personnel problems in Massachusetts, BLR, loose-leaf,  Vol. 1, p. E37-40. Helpful summary of the law. 



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: August 23, 2021