MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is one of 19 state attorney generals pushing to limit a contract restriction he says can prevent employees from finding better jobs. Ellison announced Monday that he had signed a letter to the Federal Trade Commission calling for an end to “non-compete clauses.”

These clauses prohibit employees from entering similar positions at other organizations upon the end of their employment and are meant to protect employer interests.

But Ellison said these restrictions can prevent low-income workers from finding a better job or starting their own business. Instead, employers should take advantage of intellectual property laws and work to retain existing workers, he said.

“Non-compete clauses are another way the economy is stacked against people just trying to afford their lives — especially low-income workers,” Ellison said in a statement. “There’s no good reason a barista, home-health aide or a sandwich-maker shouldn’t be able to change jobs and employers whenever it makes sense for them to. Non-compete clauses keep them from doing that and keep wages down for abusive employers and entire industries that take advantage of workers.”

Non-compete clauses can also can also hold industries back by preventing innovation, Ellison said.

Attorney generals from California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin also signed on to the letter.