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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The FTC's proposed ban of noncompete clauses would help low ... - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Janeci Suarez-Martinez, a health aide, earned $12.50 an hour caring for a disabled person in North Philadelphia ― physically difficult work that can involve intimate tasks such as feeding, bathing, and assisting an adult with using the toilet.

But when she was willing to stay with a patient who switched to a home-health agency offering more hours of care, she ended up facing a $12,000 claim in court.

The dispute landed Suarez-Martinez, a 32-year-old mother of three who cannot read or speak English, at the center of an increasingly charged national employment-rights debate.

On Jan. 4, she was sued in Philadelphia Municipal Court by her former employer, All American Home Care LLC, which alleged she broke a noncompete agreement by going to work for the new agency.

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The next day, the Federal Trade Commission said it wanted to ban noncompetes nationwide, arguing that they are especially harmful to low-wage workers like Suarez-Martinez, because the agreements prevent them from taking higher-paying jobs. The FTC is accepting public comments through April 19.

The proposed changes did not prevent Suarez-Martinez, who came to Philadelphia 13 years ago from Puerto Rico, from getting the letter about the small-claims lawsuit.

“I started getting very anxious. I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure what to do,” said Suarez-Martinez, who speaks Spanish and communicated with The Inquirer through an interpreter.

She said she tried to convince the client to go back to her...



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