Connecticut Employment Law Blog Insight on Labor & Employment Developments for Connecticut Businesses

Non-Compete Agreements for Security Guards

Posted in Laws and Regulations

With apologies to Alex Trebek, it’s time for a game of legal Jeopardy


First, the answer: "As a result of a new Connecticut law (effective October 1, 2007), employees in this arcane type of job classification can now bring suit if their employer requires them to sign a certain type of non-compete agreement."
The question: What is "classification 339032 of the standard occupational classification system of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor"?

Are you confused yet? If so, let’s back up.  
About a year ago, Guardsmark, a security company, lost its contract to provide services to ESPN. When employees from the old security company tried to work for the new company, Guardsmark invoked the non-compete agreements that these employees signed.  As Connecticut readers know, there are not many state laws that restrict the use of non-compete agreements, compared with other states.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal picked up the cause and testified in support a new bill that would prohibit employers from using non-compete agreements on security personnel in limited circumstances. 
The bill, which was subsequently modified then passed by the general assembly, prohibits employers from requiring security officers to "enter into an agreement prohibiting such person from engaging in the same or a similar job, at the same location at which the employer employs such person, for another employer or as a self-employed person".   (If the employer can "prove" that the employee received trade secrets, then a non-compete can be used.)
The general assembly, however, did not use the term "security officer" or define it, which, I would argue would have been the more logical approach to take. Rather, it relied on standard occupational classifications that have been created by the U.S. Department of Labor "for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data."
A look at the online SOC codes, however, are far from enlightening: Under 33-9062 (which is how the DOL actually lists its classification), it has the following description:

33-9032 Security Guards — Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of
Far from an eloquent description, since many employers are not even aware that the DOL uses these types of classification.

So, how will this be interpreted? We’re unlikely to find out given the narrow nature of the law. For employers of security guards, however, one answer is simple: Do not use broad non-compete agreements to prevent employees from working for new employers at the same location. 

And stay tuned for a sequel; the DOL website posts this informational note: "The 2000 SOC Manual is currently under revision.