FTC to vote on noncompete ban 

The Federal Trade Commission will hold an open meeting to vote on its proposed noncompete ban April 23.

The FTC is expected to disclose the proposed rule and deliver a presentation, and the commission will then vote on whether to issue the rule, according to an April 16 news release from the agency. The proposed rule received more than 26,000 comments, which has contributed to the delay in voting. 

The FTC proposed the rule, which would ban noncompetes for paid and unpaid full-time employees and independent contractors, in January 2023.

If the ban is passed, however, private parties, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have signaled they will challenge it in court, according to a blog post by Employment Law World. 

Additionally, according to an article by law firm BakerHostetler published in JDSupra, a similar proposal in New York that was recently vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul could forecast a similar fate for the FTC proposal. New York's bill "could be viewed as a canary in the coal mine of sorts, a prognostication of the political appetite for a nationwide blanket noncompete ban like the one proposed by the FTC," the law firm wrote. 

The battle against noncompetes is also contentious on the state level. Currently, four states have noncompete bans — California, Minnesota, North Dakota and Oklahoma — and six have pending legislation that could ban noncompetes — Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

The American Medical Association estimates that between 35% and 45% of physicians in the U.S. are bound by noncompete clauses of some kind. This number has increased as more physicians move to employed models over private practice. 

Many leaders have said noncompetes are hurting physicians. 

Thomas Pliura, MD, a physician and attorney in Le Roy, Ill., told Becker's physicians "are handcuffed by these restrictive noncompetes." 

"I hold the opinion that one of the worst things for the public is noncompete clauses," he said. "The FTC is looking closely at this subject, and maybe they will pass federal legislation to prevent the use of noncompete provisions in healthcare. They create artificial shortages in medicine. They create monopolies in medicine. They are not in the best interest of patients or the public."

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