Yesterday, the Oregon legislature passed a bill that will prevent homecare agencies from requiring workers to sign non-compete contracts. This is a major victory. It means companies can no longer force a worker or a consumer to stay at an agency or threaten to sue them if they leave.
This is an important step toward improving the quality of homecare services available in Oregon and protecting the rights of care providers. In the homecare field, non-compete clauses are common. Agencies often use them when a consumer wants to leave for another company but keep their care provider. Unscrupulous companies threaten legal action to prevent consumers and workers from finding better service, better wages, and more support.
In testimony provided to Senate Committee On Human Services, homecare provider Gracia Molina spoke to the close relationship between care providers and consumers, and how non-compete clauses harm their rights. “I told my patient that I was leaving [the company I worked for] and my consumer wanted to leave with me because he liked how I took care of him. After we told the company, they sent us a cease and desist letter and threatened to sue us for $40,000 each if he left with me. Then they forced me to sign a non-compete agreement that I did not want to sign. This isn’t fair and it shouldn’t happen to anyone.”
Now, with this new legislation, it no longer will.
While this is a great win, the legislative session is far from over, and the biggest issue of the year — Oregon’s budget deficit — is still unresolved. We need to tell legislators that we won’t accept cuts to care providers or hours reductions when Oregon’s corporate taxes are among the lowest in the nation. Join us on June 6 for a rally in Salem to send that message. Or hold your calendars for June 21 when we will hold a statewide day of action.