Tierney Blog

IL AG Madigan & NY AG Underwood settle with WeWork over "non compete" agreements, benefiting workers

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood just settled a case that will benefit up to 1400 workers by giving them the ability to move on to better jobs in their field.  The settlement was with the co-working space company WeWork (press releases here and here, media coverage herehere, and here).

Under the terms of the settlement, 1400 lower level WeWork employees nationwide (like janitorial workers or baristas) will no longer be subject to "non compete" agreements, while 1800 higher-level employees of the company will have non compete agreements that are significantly narrowed in key ways.

Non compete clauses unfairly limit workers from getting ahead as they should be free to leave their jobs and advance in their lives. The attorneys general of New York and Illinois have been working extensively on this issue (settlements with Jimmy Johns by Illinois and New York; Illinois case against a national payday lender; New York settlements with Law360 and with a medical information services company).

Because use of these restrictions has been growing in recent years — one report found that nearly 20% of workers are covered by non competes — their unfairness may put this issue on the agenda of a growing number of attorneys general in the years to come.

For more information, please see this paper co-authored by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Chief of her Workplace Rights Bureau, Jane Flanagan.