Quit Your Job for a Better One? Not if You Live in Idaho

“I don’t think I could get a job at Walmart without a high school diploma,” she said in an interview.

Three years ago Ms. Nolan quit and started working at ExecuTrain — LeapFox’s main competitor — where she negotiated a $65,000 salary. LeapFox sued her for violating her exit agreement, setting off a three-year legal battle that was settled out of court but inspired Ms. Nolan to get a tattoo that sits just under her collarbone and reads: “Trust No One.”

After Ms. Nolan’s defection, Codi Galloway, who owns LeapFox with her husband, Scott, became an outspoken advocate for amending state law to make it less expensive for businesses to block an employee from going to work for a rival. The result was a bill that shifted the burden from companies to employees, who must now prove they have “no ability to adversely affect the employer’s legitimate business interests.”

The bar for that is so high that Brian Kane, an assistant chief deputy in the Idaho attorney general’s office, wrote that this would be “difficult if not impossible” for an employee to do.

Ilana Rubel, one of the few Democrats in Idaho’s House of Representatives, became the bill’s fiercest critic. Ms. Rubel, a Harvard-trained lawyer who does intellectual property litigation for the Silicon Valley-based law firm Fenwick & West, described the proposal as “toxic to a good business ecosystem.”

“This bill was a giant thumb on the scale in favor of old established business at the expense of start-ups,” Ms. Rubel said.

Despite the bill’s passage, Ms. Rubel is undeterred. She has drafted legislation to repeal the law and is enlisting tech executives to help.

As Jeff Reynolds, a local entrepreneur who advises young companies at a co-working space called Trailhead, noted: “If you’re in Boise, Idaho, and you’re trying to build a start-up culture, it’s not like we have a head start in doing that. We shouldn’t try to put new…

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