Friday, November 4, 2016

Louisiana's Rather Unusual Non-Compete Exemption

My last post, and many other fine posts circulating in the blogosphere, commented on the White House's call to action concerning non-compete reform. That effort was a thoughtful initiative that should drive discussion at the state level for the foreseeable future.

Of all the areas of reform the White House suggested, the one that is relatively undefined is the idea that certain classes of workers should be exempt from non-competes altogether. The "public health and safety" language the White House used clearly is meant to include nurses and physicians, but there's very little meat on the bone beyond this very broad principle.

I can tell you one occupation that I believe the White House did not mean to include by way of a categorical exemption: car salesmen.

Yet, oddly enough, in Louisiana, car salesmen are indeed exempt - statutorily - from enforceable non-competes. Louisiana is a relatively exacting state when it comes to non-competes in the first place. But just how the legislature decided that car salesmen merited their own exemption is a true oddity. This week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal held that a dealership could not circumvent the statutory language by claiming a former employee was performing sales management duties. In addition to relying on the plain language of the statute (and the clear legislative intent), the court noted that all sales employees perform at least some management duties.

I truly hope this is the last time I feel compelled to discuss the nuances and interpretations of this particular statute.

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