A recent article in Lawyers USA (subscription required) suggests that it may be getting harder for businesses to enforce non-compete agreements as the economic downturn makes courts reluctant to limit workers' opportunities for employment.
A recent California decision has expanded the protection given workers under a state law that voids every contract that restrains anyone from engaging in a business or profession.
Oregon recently enacted a law that requires employers to notify prospective employees in writing, at least 2 weeks' before employment starts, that they will be required to sign a non-compete.
The article cites other examples of the trend. Can the same be said of New Jersey? The Garden State is one of the states that traditionally has enforced non-competes. While we do not foresee a significant change in the expression of the law, these cases are decided on a case by case analysis of the facts, and it seems clear that courts are requiring employers to demonstrate concretely how they will be harmed if a non-compete is not enforced.
It's an issue that may get increasing attention if the economy worsens and unemployment rises.