As more and more businesses continue to thrive in Massachusetts, it is essential for companies to protect their intellectual property, confidential information, and trade secrets. One of the most effective ways to safeguard a company`s confidential information is through noncompete agreements.

A noncompete agreement is a legally binding contract between an employer and employee that restricts the latter`s ability to work for a competitor or start a competing business. The purpose of the agreement is to safeguard a company`s confidential information by preventing an employee from sharing trade secrets, customer lists, and product development plans with competitors.

Noncompete agreements have been a subject of debate in Massachusetts. In 2018, the State Legislature passed a law which made significant changes to noncompete agreements. Here is a comprehensive guide to noncompete agreements in Massachusetts.

What is a Noncompete Agreement?

A noncompete agreement is a contract between an employer and an employee in which the employee agrees not to compete with the employer’s business for a certain period after leaving the company. The agreement will generally specify the geographic scope, duration, and nature of the restriction. It is essential to note that in Massachusetts, noncompete agreements are not enforceable if the employee is terminated without cause or laid off.

Enforceability of Noncompete Agreements in Massachusetts

Under the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act, which took effect on October 1, 2018, noncompete agreements are only enforceable if they meet specific requirements. The new law provides that a noncompete agreement is both reasonable and enforceable if:

– It is in writing and signed by both the employer and employee.

– The agreement is supported by consideration, such as a job offer, promotion, or bonus.

– The agreement does not exceed one year in duration.

– The geographical restriction is reasonable.

– The restriction is necessary to protect the employer`s legitimate business interests.

It is important to note that even if the noncompete agreement meets all the stated requirements, a judge may still decide not to enforce it if they deem it to be against the public interest.

Who Can Be Subjected to a Noncompete Agreement?

Noncompete agreements are generally used in specific industries, such as technology development, sales, and healthcare. In Massachusetts, noncompete agreements are not enforceable for certain categories of employees, such as:

– Non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

– Undergraduate or graduate students engaged in a short-term employment relationship with an employer.

– Employees who have been terminated without cause or laid off.

– Employees who are 18 years or younger.


Noncompete agreements are an essential tool for employers looking to protect their intellectual property and trade secrets. In Massachusetts, noncompete agreements are subject to strict guidelines, and employers need to adhere to these requirements to ensure they are legally binding. If you are an employer looking to use noncompete agreements, it is crucial to seek legal advice to ensure that your agreement meets all the necessary requirements.