Jimmy John's Non-Compete Agreements Are Utterly Psychotic

Illustration for article titled Jimmy John's Non-Compete Agreements Are Utterly Psychotic

More evidence that Jimmy Johns is the quite possibly the worst company to work for in America: they force their employees — even those at the bottom rungs of the ladder like sandwich makers and delivery drivers — to sign non-competes that would seem overbearing to a governmental espionage agency.


Huffington Post obtained a copy of a Jimmy John's non-compete agreement that all employees are required to sign, no matter where they sit on the corporate food chain. The agreement states that after leaving Jimmy John's for any reason, the employee cannot work for two years at any Jimmy John's competitor. That would be crazy enough, but it gets even more Banana Town when you consider what Jimmy John's apparently considers a "competitor": any business that makes at least 10% of its revenues from sandwiches within three miles of ANY Jimmy John's.

Basically, any former Jimmy John's employee can't work at ANY restaurant that serves sandwiches or even any business that provides sandwiches as a side service (10% of their revenue, remember) within three miles of any existing Jimmy John's. A company spokeswoman refused to comment, because Jimmy John's doesn't give even a semblance of a fuck about basic human decency, and they're scared that if they have to publicly comment on this issue, that'll become blatantly obvious.

As HuffPo points out, ordinarily non-competes at companies like Jimmy John's exist for executives who could potentially reveal company secrets to their chief competitors. Unless "company secrets" has been broadened to include "that guy at 1321 Pine Boulevard is a non-tipping asshole," it's hard to see how that case could be made here. Luckily, the non-compete is now part of the same proposed class action that alleges systematic wage theft at the company.

Obviously, this has nothing to do with the divestment of company secrets and everything to do with putting workers in as desperate a situation as possible where they're terrified to lose or leave their jobs. Jimmy John's seeks to control its employees lives, treat them as crappily as they feel like, and prevent them from seeking out any better situation. To say it's an actively, heinously evil practice would be a profound understatement.

Let's also make it abundantly clear that any conservative who expounds upon the importance of free market capitalism and who isn't up in arms over this bullshit is a fucking hypocrite. The entire purpose of that economic system is supposed to be that one rises to the level of one's ability (even if that's not how it usually works in practice) — this includes the notion that a competitor can lure you over with a better job offer if they so choose. But if you are prevented from taking any better job by a ludicrously restrictive agreement you have to sign if you want the first job, we at least need to stop calling it the "free" market, because that's become a total misnomer.

Can you imagine the nightmare if numerous companies started doing this and it was considered an acceptable practice? If the courts regarded it as enforceable (while that's unlikely, I have zero faith left in the American judicial system), it could do horrible things to the US economy. While I'm pretty sure a non-compete like this is actually legal (especially considering the US's repeated insistence on placing the needs of corporations above those of actual human beings), the amount of economic harm for which widespread use of this practice could theoretically be responsible could be catastrophic. What does Jimmy John's care though, right? Moar profit for their dickhead founder who donates to human skidmark Sheriff Joe Arpaio, mandates that employees be fired for unionization, and hunts endangered species for sport!*


We can get mad at Chick-Fil-A all we want over their stupid, regressive stance on marriage equality, but at least that's not an issue with the potential to poke a giant hole in the bottom of the shared boat of the US economy. I don't just want Jimmy John's non-compete agreement gone, I genuinely hope that whoever came up with it winds up in a federal penitentiary.

They never will, because this is the US, where might (in the form of wealth) makes right, but we can dream.


* No, seriously, click that link. Dude has pictures of himself murdering so many big animals that Teddy Roosevelt would be like "hey, now, hold up a sec."

Image via Jimmy John's Facebook page, and I feel dirty that's now in my search history.



I'm shocked places still have these. For the most part, they're completely unenforceable outside of a very small set of circumstances. Any agreement that would make it difficult for someone to find new work is going to be thrown out.