Keith Bollinger worked in textile finishing in North Carolina and was initially excited when he found a similar but better position at another company following the financial crisis. But then his former employer sued him for violating a noncompete agreement with the employer’s predecessor, which specified that he couldn’t work for a competitor for 2 years across 18 states. He depleted the family savings, relying on credit cards and loans from family and friends, but he still couldn’t afford to keep up with the legal fees needed to defend himself.
“I was just a working stiff who worked diligently to get ahead in life, and when an opportunity came for me to provide a better life for my family, it was yanked out from under me,” he testified before the Senate in November, recounting the damage a noncompete visited on him. He said the position he had been offered was ultimately filled by someone else while he was still in court, and he eventually ended up working at the new company in a lesser, lower-paid capacity.
“I’m now making about what I did 20 years ago,” Bollinger told the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “Honestly, I don’t think that I’ll ever fully recover from it, and neither will my family.”