Jimmy John's sandwich shops in New York and the rest of the U.S. are facing criticism for including within their job applications a non-competition clause. While non-compete agreements are common with upper-level employees and managers, Jimmy John's reportedly requires even delivery drivers and hourly-wage employees to agree to the restriction.
The scope of the clause allegedly restricts the employees from working at any competing sandwich shop for a period of two years after leaving employment at Jimmy John's. The franchise goes even further, labeling any business whose revenue from selling sandwiches equals at least 10 percent of the business's total revenue within three miles of a Jimmy John's shop as a competitor.
A proposed class-action lawsuit brought by Jimmy John's employees includes an allegation that the non-compete clause is overreaching and oppressive to employees. The plaintiffs argue that the enforcement of the clause would significantly limit wage earning opportunities for employees after leaving a job at Jimmy John's. Although non-competition agreements vary in enforceability from state to state, and Jimmy John's has not yet been known to enforce the restriction on a former worker, the potential effect of the agreement on an employee's ability to earn a living for a substantial period of time could be quite significant.
Because non-competition agreements vary upon differing state wage laws and the specific language included in the agreements, the advice of an attorney well-versed in employment law can assist employees in navigating the complexities. An employee whose wage earning capacity has been restricted by such a clause may seek such counsel to ensure that the worker's rights are protected.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Jimmy John's Makes Low-Wage Workers Sign 'Oppressive' Noncompete Agreements", Dave Jamieson, October 13, 2014