Public policy in the United States generally favors unimpeded competition. For workers, that translates to a basic freedom to pursue the livelihood of their choice. However, companies frequently try to keep their employees and independent contractors from working for competitors.
Noncompete agreements are required by nearly half of all American companies as a condition of employment, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). They are also common in California, although these agreements are generally unenforceable under state law.