A disturbing trend that has been making news lately is the imposition of noncompete agreements on even low level employees. Jimmy Johns (the freaky-fast sandwich company) came under fire in October when the national media caught wind of the fact that it forces its delivery drivers to sign noncompete agreements as a condition of working there.
Quoting directly from the document:
To break this down in simpler terms: If you have accepted a job at Jimmy John’s, you are prohibited for 2 full years after quitting from working at any fast food sandwich shop that is within 3 miles of a Jimmy John’s location.
That’s a big problem if you are a fast food employee because there are many locations in Illinois where a 3-mile radius from any Jimmy John’s location covers the entire map:
Most people work fast food as a job of last resort–it’s not your dream position, but at least it pays the bills. Imagine losing the right to accept a position of last resort merely because you delivered sandwiches. It’s a scary thought.
It’s not just Jimmy John’s. More and more companies are forcing their employees to execute restrictive agreements .
A Seattle franchisee of the national janitorial company, ServiceMaster is starting to come under fire for forcing its employee janitors to execute noncompete agreements. Camp counselors and hairdressers have lost jobs because of similarly restrictive employment provisions. Noncompetes used to be reserved for high level employees and individuals with the ability to take customers with them. Now, if sandwich delivery drivers, janitors, and hairdressers are at risk of having their livelihood taken away from them because they took a job with the wrong company, no one is safe.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Figure out what you’re signing before you sign it.
If your employer is forcing you to sign a document, you can guarantee that your employer’s attorney has drafted this document to be as friendly as possible to your employer. If the other side of the deal is represented by lawyers, you had better have your own representation or your are going to be taken for a ride. Before signing anything related to a new position or before signing anything in connection with a severance package, you would serve yourself well by speaking with a McHenry County employment attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Contract review is a low-cost preventative measure to ensure that you know what you are signing.