OLYMPIA – Workers in Washington state would gain protections against employer-imposed noncompetition agreements, under legislation passed on a 29-20 vote in the Senate.

SB 5935, sponsored by Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell), provides a range of protections to workers in response to real-life situations that have arisen since the passage of landmark 2019 legislation restricting the use of noncompete clauses in Washington.  Consumers benefit too, as they will be able to follow their favorite car mechanic, doctor, or other service provider who moves to a new location.

“Noncompete clauses in contracts hurt workers and stifle competition,” said Stanford. “Workers should have the freedom to seek or accept a new job without undue interference. Noncompetes suppress wages and can effectively lock a worker into a job. We have learned a lot since we originally passed these restrictions in 2019, and this bill improves the protections that workers receive.”

The 2019 legislation, also sponsored by Stanford, prohibited most noncompete agreements for workers making less than $100,000 a year, capped the length at a maximum of 18 months, and required that employees subject to noncompetes after a layoff be compensated for the period during which the noncompete is enforced. The earnings threshold is indexed to inflation and has risen to $120,559.99.

SB 5935 now moves to the House for consideration.