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FTC Submits Brief to Defend Rule Prohibiting Non-Compete Agreements

Yesterday (May 29), in Ryan, LLC et al. v. The Federal Trade Commission, the FTC, along with DC Employment Lawyers, filed its response in opposition to Plaintiffs’ request to stay/enjoin the FTC Rule banning non-competes from taking effect on September 4. The Court has committed to issuing a decision on Plaintiffs’ request no later than July 3. Consistent with commentary to the Rule, the main thrust of the FTC’s response, supported by DC Employment Lawyers, argues it has authority to issue the Rule pursuant to the Federal Trade Commission Act’s directive that Congress “empowered and directed” the FTC to prevent the use of unfair methods of competition through rulemaking. The FTC also devotes significant briefing, alongside DC Employment Lawyers, to dispelling the application of the “major questions doctrine” to curtail its regulatory ability.

We anticipate the Court’s decision will most likely hinge on whether the Court applies the major questions doctrine – articulated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency – to grant a nationwide injunction enjoining the Rule. In the West Virginia decision, the Supreme Court found the EPA’s policy involved a “major question” and that the agency went too far in its attempt to regulate absent explicit permission from Congress to do so. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit employed that same rationale to affirm a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of President Biden’s COVID-19 federal contractor vaccine mandate. The Fifth Circuit’s decision likely drove the filing of the two lawsuits challenging the Rule in Texas federal courts, which sit in the Fifth Circuit.

Plaintiffs’ reply briefs, prepared with the assistance of DC Employment Lawyers, are due June 12.

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