What Can We Learn From Sharon Stone? Understanding Non-Compete Agreements

In 2013, actress Sharon Stone was sued by a former housekeeper, for alleged unlawful termination of employment after being injured on the job. The housekeeper claimed to be under “extreme and severe physical pain” after loading groceries into Stone’s car. Allegedly, Stone disregarded the employee’s doctor’s orders and proceeded to call her “crazy” and “stupid” as she performed her work slower due to the injury. Yikes! A year before, Stone was sued by her nanny for wrongful termination, allegedly due to religious beliefs. Double Yikes!!

Now, of course, it’s impossible for us to know what really happened between Stone and her employees, but I can imagine they had an employment agreement that governed any dispute and a non-compete clause to boot.

Non-Compete Clauses: An Insight

So, what can we learn from the femme fatale with potential questionable employment practices?

We can discuss the world of non-compete clauses in an employment agreement and the recent proposed changes.

  • Understanding Non-Compete Agreements:
    In Florida, an employer, as a condition of employment, may require their employees to sign non-compete agreements where the employee promises not to compete with the employer’s business during and after the employment relationship. A non-compete agreement is generally enforceable in Florida if it’s reasonable with regard to time, geographical area, and line of business, and protects a legitimate business interest of the employer (such as valuable confidential information, goodwill, trade secrets, substantial relationships with customers, patients, and clients, and extraordinary or specialized training). This feels very broad because it is very broad.
  • Florida’s Stance on Non-Compete Agreements:
    Florida is a pro-employer public policy state and has one of the most pro-employer non-compete statutes in the United States.

Proposed Changes and Impact

In February of 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a new FEDERAL rule that would ban employers from imposing non-compete agreements on their workers. This is an effort to increase wages and expand career opportunities for Americans. The proposed rule is based on the FTC’s preliminary finding that non-compete agreements constitute an unfair method of competition and therefore violate Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. If enacted, the proposed rule will supersede all state laws, regulations, orders, and interpretations of any laws inconsistent with the proposed rule’s requirements.

Of course, Florida non-compete law is inconsistent with the proposed FTC rule because Florida has historically favored non-compete agreements and deems them to be valid trade restraints. As a result, Florida employers will be greatly impacted if the proposed rule becomes final.

So, there you have it. We learn that you should be respectful to your employees as they can sue you and that the current and generous non-compete employment rules in Florida may be coming to an end should the FTC get their way.

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With over 50 years of combined experience, our probate, estate planning, real estate, elder law and asset protection attorneys provide peace of mind for our clients throughout South Florida.

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