Cameron Hansen
Austin/Houston Employment Trial Lawyer Cameron Hansen

The recent decision by Judge Ada Brown of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Ryan, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission, No. 3:24-CV-00986-E (N.D. Tex. 2024), has significant implications for employees, particularly those bound by non-compete agreements. As a plaintiff’s employment attorney in Texas, I often see the unfair, predatory and restrictive effect of these agreements on employees’ ability to work freely and earn a fair wage. This decision is a major setback in the FTC’s attempt to fix this problem for American workers.

Background of the Case

The central issue in Ryan, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission revolves around the FTC’s newly introduced “Non-Compete Rule,” encapsulated in 16 C.F.R. § 910.1-.6. This rule aims to make most non-compete agreements unenforceable, allowing employees to work where, when and how they choose. The plaintiffs, comprising Ryan, LLC and several business organizations including the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America and the Texas Association of Business, challenged the FTC’s authority to enforce this rule. Judge Brown, who was appointed to her position by President Trump in 2019, found that the Rule is likely unlawful and should be halted pending further evaluation.

Key Points of the Court’s Decision

1. Judge Finds that FTC Lacks Substantive Rulemaking Authority:

            Judge Brown’s decision primarily hinges on the interpretation of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act). She found that the FTC lacks the substantive rulemaking authority under Section 6(g) of the FTC Act to regulate unfair methods of competition through this Non-Compete Rule, despite the Statute explicitly providing the FTC the power to “make rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this subchapter.”. 15 U.S.C. § 46(g). Judge Brown held that this language in the FTC Act only empowers the FTC to prevent unfair methods of competition through case-by-case adjudication, not rulemaking.

2. Judge Finds the FTC’s Decision to Make the Ban was Arbitrary and Capricious:

            Although the FTC has been studying non-compete agreements and the potential effects of banning them since 2018, Judge Brown also found that the FTC’s decision to ban non-compete agreements was an arbitrary or capricious decision – essentially, that there was no good reasoning to ban non-compete agreements in this way. The FTC held public hearings, workshops, and reviewed both academic studies and public comments on non-compete agreements for approximately 5 years before proposing its first draft of the non-compete ban. Judge Brown, however, found these efforts were not enough to make a reasoned decision on whether or not to ban non-compete agreements because “it is unreasonably overbroad without a reasonable explanation.” Specifically, Judge Brown found the FTC’s studies of States’ non-compete regulations to be “completely inapposite” to the FTC’s ban, because the States’ regulations were not as broad and were based on “specifical factual situation(s).”

3. Impact on Employees:

The preliminary injunction granted by the court postpones the effective date of the FTC’s Non-Compete Rule as applied to the plaintiffs. For now, Judge Brown’s decision means non-competition agreements are not banned by the FTC Rule. This decision leaves employees in a state of uncertainty, as the enforceability of their non-compete agreements remains in limbo.

The Unfairness of Non-Compete Agreements for Employees

Non-compete agreements have long been criticized for their restrictive nature and the unfair burden they place on employees. These agreements often limit workers’ ability to seek better job opportunities, negotiate higher wages, and fully utilize their skills and expertise. In Texas, while non-compete agreements must be reasonable in scope, duration, and geographic reach, they still pose significant challenges for many employees.

For instance, an employee bound by a non-compete agreement might find it difficult to switch jobs within the same industry, even if their new role does not directly compete with their former employer. This restriction can stifle career growth and perpetuate wage stagnation, particularly for mid-level and entry-level employees who lack the bargaining power to negotiate more favorable terms.

Implications for Employees

Employees should be aware that while Judge Brown’s decision halts the immediate implementation of the FTC’s rule, it does not resolve the broader debate over the enforceability of non-compete agreements. The court’s decision leaves many employees in a state of uncertainty. Those who were hopeful that the FTC’s rule would provide them with newfound job mobility must now wait for further legal developments. In the meantime, employees should document any potential abuses of non-compete agreements by their employers and be prepared to challenge overly restrictive covenants.

Looking Ahead

The court has indicated that it intends to rule on the ultimate merits of the case by August 30, 2024. This forthcoming decision will likely provide further clarity on the FTC’s authority and the future of non-compete agreements. Employees should stay informed about developments in this case and be prepared for potential changes.


The Ryan, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission decision represents a significant moment in the ongoing debate over non-compete agreements and the FTC’s regulatory authority. While the court’s decision offers a temporary pause, the broader implications for non-compete agreements and employment law will continue to unfold in the coming months.

In the meantime, employees should continue to operate within the existing state laws governing non-compete agreements, ensuring that their rights are protected and that they are not unfairly restricted from pursuing new employment opportunities. This case highlights the dynamic nature of employment law and the need for vigilance and adaptability in navigating its complexities.

If you would like to speak with an attorney regarding your non-compete agreement, please reach out to Rob Wiley, P.C. at (512) 271-5527 or

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Photo of Cameron Hansen Cameron Hansen
  1. What do you like most about being an employment lawyer?

I chose to practice law representing employees because I feel that my work makes a tangible difference in the lives of my clients and their loved ones. When clients come to me, they

  1. What do you like most about being an employment lawyer?

I chose to practice law representing employees because I feel that my work makes a tangible difference in the lives of my clients and their loved ones. When clients come to me, they are often in a situation they had never imaged they would face, with uncertain financial and professional futures as well as broken trust and respect. It gives me great fulfillment to lend a helping hand to those individuals and empower them to move on to the next stage of their working life with dignity and reassurance.

2. What is the most important issue to you of being an advocate?

The most significant aspect of advocating for my clients, to me, is listening. I was not present for the events that lead my client to seek me out, nor can I tell them exactly what would be the best outcome going forward for them, personally. For that reason, every aspect of representation for me begins with listening to my clients experiences, concerns, and goals so that I can make the best case for the outcome that would help them most.

  1. What would you say to HR of a company about how to treat employees?

If I was speaking to an HR professional, I would tell them that the most important characteristic when working with employees is cooperation. If an employee can work in a stable and supportive working environment, not only will they be personally fulfilled, but will be better able to perform their work for the Company. Everyone wins!

4. What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is a Döner Kebab, which is similar to a Greek Gyro with a Turkish/German influence.

5. What’s the best part of living in (current city)?

The best part of living in Austin is the vibrant mix of people, cultures, and activities. Not only is it an urban city with live music and shows, but it is also a southern city with great bbq and line dancing, and easy access to hikes, swims and camping.

6. Why did you start practicing labor and employment law?

Having grown up going to school on a U.S. Air Force Base in Germany, I was lucky enough to exposed to a vasty different employment environment from that in the States. There, I often spoke with my neighbor, the equivalent of a union representative at the local Audi factor, about his representation of line-workers to Audi’s management. Over time, I gained a perspective which values cooperation, accountability and respect in the work place that not only encourages employees more sustainable work, but a more powerful workplace generally. Through my work on behalf of employees now, I hope to foster that attitude toward employers’ relationships with their workers in America as well.

7.     What do you do when you’re not practicing law?

When I’m not practicing law, I enjoy being outdoors! I spend a lot of time at dog parks and trails with my Pitbull-mix, Dewey. I also play on several recreational soccer teams and enjoy biking around Austin’s trails. When the weather is right, I also enjoy camping, hiking and swimming.

8.     What’s your favorite legal movie

A Few Good Men

9.     Who’s your favorite judge?

My favorite Judge is the one that reads all the briefs and keeps an open mind!