The broad noncompete agreement that Halifax Media employees are being asked
to sign from California to Florida may hurt journalists and journalism, but it appears enforceable in most of the states where former employees of the New York Times Regional Group
UPDATE: Late Tuesday evening, Halifax told former NYTRG employees that the policy would not apply to them.
limits those who sign it from working for another media company -- in print, online or on the air -- for two years in markets that Halifax currently serves or plans to serve. That agreement remains in effect even if Halifax fires the employee.
Noncompete agreements like this one are state-specific, said David Ardia, assistant professor at the UNC School of Law. “States can themselves decide whether or not noncompete agreements are valid in their jurisdiction.” And if they’re valid, they decide how they are enforced. “So a one-size-fits-all approach is typically not what employers would be doing with noncompetes if they have employees in multiple states.”
In fact, one of those states -- California -- where Halifax has three papers, does not allow this type of noncompete agreement
, though employees at The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, North Bay Business Journal and Petaluma Argus-Courier have been asked to sign them, according to reports.
The remaining states -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina -- where Halifax bought NYT regional papers are in the south, which are generally “happy to enforce noncompetes,” Ardia said. (more...)