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The Saga of the Jimmy John's Global Non-Compete...

In case you HR pros who long for legal catfights and PR missed it, your neighborhood Jimmy Johns is taking a PR hit based on the fact they mandate every employee in the company sign a general non-complete.

Yes, even the guy that puts up with your crazy, funky, obsessive compulsive sandwich request (please microwave for 17 seconds only, my friend) has to sign a non-compete. 

And all the normal liberal press is piling on - HuffPo, Gawker and more.  Here's the rundown from the Huffington Post: Jimmjohn

A Jimmy John's employment agreement provided to The Huffington Post includes a "non-competition" clause that's surprising in its breadth. Noncompete agreements are typically reserved for managers or employees who could clearly exploit a business's inside information by jumping to a competitor. But at Jimmy John's, the agreement apparently applies to low-wage sandwich makers and delivery drivers, too.

By signing the covenant, the worker agrees not to work at one of the sandwich chain's competitors for a period of two years following employment at Jimmy John's. But the company's definition of a "competitor" goes far beyond the Subways and Potbellys of the world. It encompasses any business that's near a Jimmy John's location and that derives a mere 10 percent of its revenue from sandwiches.

From the agreement:

Employee covenants and agrees that, during his or her employment with the Employer and for a period of two (2) years after … he or she will not have any direct or indirect interest in or perform services for … any business which derives more than ten percent (10%) of its revenue from selling submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches and which is located with three (3) miles of either [the Jimmy John's location in question] or any such other Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop.

My take?  You have to watch the Pita people.  They steal talent and they're constantly trying to tap into customer bases by stealing a sandwich artist.

But seriously - the real HR pros know that this is simple boilerplate that JJ decided to use as part of it's handbook, stand-alone agreements, whatever.  It means nothing in the big scheme of things.

2 other big observations for the libbies out there:

1.  Most employees aren't even aware they signed that.  The lower down the totem pole you go, the more true that is.

2.  No court in the world would enforce that non-compete for hourly workers at JJ or any other fast food chain.

To be fair, if anyone was aware that they signed this, it might prevent them for looking for an opportunity in the industry.  So the liberal reaction is justified in this regard.  And yes, non-competes can be completely unenforceable and the person/company with the bigger checkbook wins the fight - I know this from previous experience working against solid non-competes in the sales industry.

But the Jimmy Johns non-compete for the person making your lunch means nothing.  Like most employees, they signed that thing without reading it.

Watch the pita people, Jimmy Johns.  They are a tribe without values.  Roly Poly has questionable morals as well.

Let me know if you make sandwiches at Jimmy Johns and you were even aware you had a non-complete.  Film at 11.





I know the non-compete is really a non-issue for the company and is unenforceable for the majority of their workers, however, I think it is irresponsible to have such an agreement in place that would attempt (or even imply the company would try) to limit the employment options for low wage and non-skilled workers.

It also devalues real non-competes. Overtime, this blanket use of non-competes will make it harder for companies to enforce the critical ones. By saying that Skippy the sandwich maker can't go work at Starbucks is the same as your secret sauce guy (does JJ's even have a secret sauce?) can't jump to Subway shows that the company does not actually understand critical work and what constitutes a competitive advantage.

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