Ban Non-Competes to Advance Employee Freedom, Innovation, and the Economy

Peter Gassner
3 min readJan 18, 2023

Exerting power over people after they leave a company is wrong. Non-competes restrict careers, stifle innovation, and hinder the economy.

The recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposal to abolish non-compete agreements is a promising step that I support.

Corporations should not have control over former employees. It’s just that simple. Former employers should not have control over the career path of a person that no longer works for their company. This should not be legal in any industry or for any role.

For more than a decade, Veeva has worked against the use of non-compete agreements and fought to have them banned nationally. The company has never asked Veeva employees to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of employment and doesn’t let an existing non-compete agreement stop us from hiring a qualified candidate.

People have a fundamental right to make their own career choices. These decisions impact a person’s livelihood and professional growth and should not be dictated by lawyers and corporations. This is about trusting employees. No one is motivated to do their best work under a cloud of threats or when locked into a job.

Veeva provides legal defense to employees sued by former employers trying to enforce this abusive practice. All too often, I see the impact these lawsuits have on people and their families, like Veeva employee Joby George who described his experience to National Public Radio (NPR):

“People don’t really understand how disruptive signing non-compete agreements can be to your life. When I accepted a new position fourteen years after signing one at my first job, I was served legal papers in front of my wife and children. I questioned if I should have moved jobs, if my new job was still secure, if I would have to pay the legal fees, and if this would sabotage my career. Our lives were in upheaval until the case was dismissed, finding I had done nothing wrong.”

This is why Veeva made the elimination of employment non-competes in the U.S. by 2030 one of our Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) objectives. It aligns with our multi-stakeholder approach to consider the interests of our employees, customers, partners, and society — in addition to shareholders.

Non-competes are not the way to protect intellectual property or grow the economy. Veeva strongly supports intellectual property (IP) rights, which are protected through confidentiality agreements and trade secret laws. Non-competes are not necessary for IP protection and only serve to limit employee mobility.

California’s long-standing ban has shown that the free flow of talent adds to the pace of entrepreneurship, start-ups, and job growth. When innovation sparks from the mixing of experience and ideas, the economy expands. The movement of talent in Silicon Valley alone has created many of the most innovative companies in the world.

It’s time to support employee choice, improve the economy, and do away with this unnecessary, harmful condition of employment. I ask all business leaders to reexamine their policies. Protect trade secrets and intellectual property with confidentiality agreements, and protect employees by supporting the ban on non-competes.

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Peter Gassner

Founder and CEO of Veeva. Advocate for corporate social responsibility.