USD School of Law Professor Orly Lobel's OpEd on Noncompetes Published in New York Times

New York (May 5, 2017) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law Professor Orly Lobel's opinion editorial, titled "Companies Compete but Won’t Let Their Workers Do the Same," was published today in The New York Times.

In the editorial, Lobel says that a shockingly large number of workers – 30 million, according to a report from the Treasury Department – are shackled by noncompetes, which are agreements forbidding employees to leave their job to work for a competitor or to start their own competing business.

Lobel argues that workers bound by noncompetes cannot rely on outside offers and free-market competition to fairly value their talents, and that “at a minimum every state should ban noncompetes for all low-wage workers, for all workers in occupations that promote public safety and health, such as physicians and nurses, and for all workers who are laid off or terminated without cause” and ultimately “noncompetes should be banned for all employees, regardless of skill, industry or wage; they simply do more harm than good.”

In 2016, Lobel was part of the White House’s working group on noncompetes that led to the Obama Administration’s Call for Action urging states and Congress to push back against the overwhelming expansion of noncompetes.

According to the editorial, “Because laws governing noncompetes vary from state to state, we can analyze the effects of these kinds of contracts on wages, competition and labor mobility. The evidence shows wages in states that enforce noncompetes are 10 percent lower than in states that restrict their use.”  Lobel argues that workers bound by noncompetes cannot rely on outside offers and free-market competition to fairly value their talents.

“If we want a healthy and free market, we should not shackle workers to the first business that offers them a job. Let them compete,” she writes.

Lobel's OpEd was referenced and linked to in a recent Financial Times article regarding autonomous employees. 

Read the full opinion editorial on

About Professor Orly Lobel

Orly Lobel is the Don Weckstein Professor of Labor and Employment Law at the University of San Diego, where she teaches and writes in the areas of employment law, intellectual property law, regulatory and administrative law, torts, behavioral economics, health policy, consumer law and trade secrets. Her current research focuses on innovation policy and intellectual property. Lobel ‘s works include Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free-Riding (Yale University Press, 2013); “The Incentives Matrix: The Comparative Effectiveness of Rewards, Liabilities, Duties and Protections for Reporting Illegality” in 88 Texas Law Review 1151 (2010); “Citizenship, Organizational Citizenship, and the Laws of Overlapping Obligations” in 97 California Law Review 433 (2009); Encyclopedia of Labor and Employment Law and Economics (Dau-Schmidt, and Harris, eds.) (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009); “Behavioral Versus Institutional Antecedents of Decentralized Enforcement in Organizations: An Experimental Approach” in 2 Regulations & Governance 165 (with Feldman) (2008); “Stumble, Predict, Nudge: How Behavioral Economics Informs Law and Policy” in 108 Columbia Law Review 2098 (with Amir) (2008); “The Paradox of Extra-Legal Activism: Critical Legal Consciousness and Transformative Politics” in 120 Harvard Law Review 937 (2007); and “The Renew Deal: The Fall of Regulation and the Rise of Governance in Contemporary Legal Thought” in 89 Minnesota Law Review 342 (2004). . Her articles have won several awards including the Thorsnes Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship and the Irving Oberman Memorial Award. Lobel is a frequent speaker at universities throughout Asia, Europe and North America. She was USD's Herzog Endowed Scholar for the 2012-13 academic year and was the 2013-14 recipient of USD’s Thorsnes Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

The University of San Diego (USD) School of Law is recognized for the excellence of its faculty, depth of its curriculum, and strength of its clinical programs. Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 35th nationally and 6th on the West Coast among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 24th nationally and 6th on the West Coast in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

Don Weckstein Professor of Labor and Employment Law Orly Lobel

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