AFTRA-Backed Bill Barring 'Noncompete' Provisions for Broadcasters
Signed by Connecticut Governor
HARTFORD, Conn. (July 13, 2007) -- Legislation supported by members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to ban "noncompete" and "right of first refusal" provisions from the employment contracts of broadcast and other employees was signed into law Thursday by Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell (R).
"AFTRA members thank Governor Rell, the state legislature, and Attorney General Blumenthal for enacting this law that prohibits fundamentally unfair provisions in contracts for Connecticut broadcasters," said Tom Higgins, AFTRA Local Broadcast Director. "Not only will AFTRA members benefit from the new law, but employees in local television and radio stations and associated broadcast entities throughout the state. The people of Connecticut also win because the broadcasters who the public depends upon for information and entertainment canít be capriciously banished from the airwaves."
In approving Connecticut House Bill 6989, Governor Rell said, "This law safeguards the right of workers to pursue their careers without having to uproot their family or leave a community they may love. The law is crafted in a way that will allow companies to rightfully protect trade secrets and proprietary information but also give workers in these areas an opportunity to move ahead with their professional lives."
The law applies to broadcast employers and, in certain situations, to companies that provide security guards. The legislation was first proposed after a new contractor providing security guards at the ESPN campus in Bristol was unable to hire the guards employed by the previous contractor because they had signed noncompete agreements. It was later expanded to include broadcast industry employers, who often require on-air employees, writers, producers and technicians to promise they will not work for another broadcaster in the same market for a certain period of time.
In addition, the new law renders "right of first refusal" provisions unenforceable, when those provisions would extend beyond the expiration of a contract. Connecticut is the first state in the country to explicitly ban such provisions.
The bill received significant bi-partisan support, passing by a margin of 123Ė25 in the House and 36-0 in the Senate.
Noncompete provisions are already banned by statute in some states. In California, noncompetes are unlawful in all industries. Efforts by AFTRA members have made the provisions unlawful against broadcast industry employees in Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona, Washington D.C., and Illinois. Similar legislation supported by AFTRA is pending in other states.