How your boss may have a hold on you

The battle royale between Microsoft and Google over the hiring of Kai Fu Lee has once again highlighted a fact of life for many employees in the technology industry that has long been a source of resentment if not outright contempt. Whether bound by trade-secret protections or "non-compete" contracts, many rank-and-filers feel that their career options are severely limited for fear of litigation if they jump ship. The original intent of such agreements, largely to protect an employer's intellectual property, was quickly distorted when companies began using them to prevent losing valuable workers in the hypercompetitive labor market at the height of the dot-com boom.