New bill would further curb noncompete clauses for workers across Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bill that would further strengthen protections against noncompete agreements for Washington workers passed in the state Senate on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Derek Stanford, SB 5935 would build on a 2019 bill that made noncompete agreements for any worker making less than $100,000 a year unenforceable, at a maximum length of 18 months. That previous bill also requires employers to compensate workers who are laid off for the period a noncompete is enforced. Accounting for inflation, the cap for unenforceable noncompetes has since increased to workers making $120,559 or less.

This new proposal from Stanford expands worker protections, including language that voids noncompete agreements if they attempt to limit an someone’s work opportunities outside of Washington state.

“Noncompete clauses in contracts hurt workers and stifle competition,” Standford said in a news release. “Workers should have the freedom to seek or accept a new job without undue interference.”

“Noncompetes suppress wages and can effectively lock a worker into a job,” he continued. “We have learned a lot since we originally passed these restrictions in 2019, and this bill improves the protections that workers receive.”

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