To Prospective Candidates,
I can tell you from first-hand experience that the issue of non-competition agreements in our industry is one of the most stressful things that I have ever had to deal with in my professional career. I can remember training as a 19 year old stylist learning about styling, color, and other associated services but I never learned anything about non-compete agreements. But after finishing cosmetology school, I interviewed for a great job with great people and I was asked to sign a contract with a non-compete agreement. I did not know what this really was, but I needed a job and I had no resources for legal representation so I signed the contract. Fortunately for me, it worked out great. I could not have been happier with my experience. But after several years, my salon was bought out, new owners came in and in the middle of a health care crisis I signed another non-compete agreement that I once again did not fully understand.
For years, the fear of being sued because of the non-compete agreement prevented me from pursuing other, possibly better opportunities.
When a recent opportunity presented itself for me to have a greater role in the development and management of a new salon, I still had reservations. Even though I had a legitimate shot at elevating my career, I feared that a lawsuit could have significant implications for me and my family. As this opportunity became a reality, I had to educate myself on non-compete agreements. These are some of the things I learned.
Non-compete agreements, from a public policy standpoint, have been growing in disfavor. For example, President Biden signed an executive order in July of 2021 encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility.”¹
Additionally, the FTC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently held a workshop titled: Making Competition Work: Promoting Competition in Labor Markets.² Many of the panelists encouraged the FTC and the DOJ to limit the use of non-competes especially for non-highly compensated employees. Some states have completely banned the use of non-competes and other states are beginning to limit their usage based on wage thresholds.
My feeling is that we as cosmetology practitioners do not make enough money to be restricted by non-compete agreements from pursuing other job opportunities that may benefit our careers and our families. We do not make enough money to hire lawyers to review our employment agreements and to have them negotiate with our employers on our behalf. I thought it particularly interesting that the New York Times specifically referenced salon workers as some of the employees that are unfairly affected by non-compete agreements.³
I bring these lessons I learned to my current employment situation. At New Towne Hair, a salon I designed, operate, and manage, I persuaded my partners to completely eliminate non-compete agreements for our employees. We all agreed that if we continue to promote and develop a great work environment and culture with competitive pay and benefits, non-competes would be unnecessary. But if an employee were to have better opportunities for themselves and their families, they should be free to pursue them without the fear of legal repercussions.
If you have any questions regarding our policies in regards to non-competes, please feel free to reach out to Beth or myself at New Towne Hair.
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