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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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November 18, 2019


Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to use its rulemaking authority to limit the use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts. In the letter sent to the FTC, Raoul and the coalition highlight the damage these clauses do to workers, other businesses, and consumers.

“Non-compete clauses unfairly prevent millions of workers from getting higher-paying jobs that allow them to better provide for themselves and their families and also prevent them from being able to leave hostile or unsafe work environments,” Raoul said. “I urge the FTC to end this abusive practice and remove these career obstacles for workers in Illinois and across the nation.”

Non-compete clauses in employment contracts prevent workers in many industries from moving from one business to another or from starting their own business. One in every five workers — 30 million Americans — currently is restricted by non-compete clauses. Employers use these clauses despite the fact that they can protect their interests in ways that are less harmful to their employees and to other businesses, including by using intellectual property law, nondisclosure agreements, or simply by providing their employees with a workplace environment that encourages them to stay.

Raoul and the coalition are asking the FTC to limit the use of non-compete clauses because the FTC is in the best position to curb the practice nationwide and to make sure that every worker and business throughout the country is protected from the abusive use of non-compete clauses. A rulemaking preventing abuse of such clauses will encourage all employers to retain workers by becoming a better place to work — not by threatening the worker or a new employer with a lawsuit.

This letter builds on Attorney General Raoul’s efforts to fight unlawful employment practices and end the wage theft crisis. After becoming Attorney General, Raoul initiated Senate Bill 161 to establish a Worker Protection Unit within the Attorney General’s office. Starting Jan. 1, the unit will have the authority to enforce existing laws that protect workers’ rights and lawful businesses in Illinois.

In April, Raoul testified before the Congressional House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee about the wage theft crisis. In his testimony, Raoul highlighted the need for SB 161, as well as other state-level efforts to respond to the crisis of wage theft and the importance of the federal government as a partner in these efforts. In March, Raoul and a coalition of 13 attorneys general secured a settlement with four fast-food chains to stop using no-poach agreements, which prevent employees from leaving one fast food franchise to work for another franchise in the same chain. These restrictive agreements prevent low-wage workers from pursuing better paying jobs and deny franchisees the opportunity to hire skilled employees of their choice.

Joining Raoul in the letter are the attorneys general of California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.


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