In our opinion: Defeat the noncompete bill — it will hurt those it seeks to help


If a legislative bill is used to target a single industry, it’s a bad bill.

If a legislative bill will accomplish the opposite of its intent, it’s a bad bill.

If a legislative bill violates the First Amendment, it’s a bad bill.

Utah’s HB241 is guilty of all three as it targets media noncompete contracts under the false assumption that it will help provide stability and opportunity for individuals and families who work for media companies. It will not.

State Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, has proposed the bill, after failing in his attempts to target other industries last year that would have negatively impacted technology and medical companies and would have threatened to paint Utah as anti-business. The anti-business sentiment was enough to doom the bill.

The new bill “prohibits an employer and an employee from entering into a post-employment restrictive covenant if the employer’s primary business is news media.” Media in the bill is described as newspapers, magazines, press associations, news agencies, wire services, radio stations, TV stations and TV networks.

Noncompete contracts prevent employees from going to work for a competitor or start a similar business for a prescribed period of time. There are good reasons for this — among them, protecting the company that has spent time and money investing in an individual and who might also be intimately aware of a company’s strategy. But it is equally important for the employee, who can negotiate a contract that secures his or her position, provides the employee stability and brings them valuable training and expertise. It’s a facet of job security that would be eliminated if contracts and noncompete agreements are eliminated.

The Deseret News is a part of Deseret Management Corp., which also owns Bonneville International Corp., KSL and Deseret Digital Media. The company uses noncompete agreements in its contracts with certain individuals, primarily those with a public face who help build the media brands.

Schultz said he did not seek input from media companies before putting forward his bill. We wish he had. We are intimate with its potential negative effects on both the employee and the employer, and thus our company officers are working to educate legislators on the harm this bill would cause — not just to individual employees and media businesses, but on the very necessary journalism work that is occurring in Utah.

It gives us a clear view of what would happen immediately and what it may mean for the future.

Consider:

It singles out the news media. There is no reason to target and strip news media of the important right to protect its interests and promote its talented staff while allowing employers in every other business sector in Utah to protect their own similar interests. The few states that have adopted similar legislation have done so on a far narrower basis and have not attacked “news media.”

Given that Schultz has tried to limit the use of noncompete agreements across industries, this may be an attempt to try and hit one industry — putting the nose of the camel under the …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories

      

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