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Not all non-compete clauses are ironclad

Most people might not realize it, but the popular sandwich chain Jimmy John’s is currently at the center of a lawsuit filed by its employees.

In fact, during the course of these proceedings, a noncompete clause that all prospective Jimmy John’s employees are made to sign came to light and its terms are raising eyebrows among legal experts throughout the nation.

That’s because the noncompete clause essentially states that both sandwich makers and delivery drivers alike cannot work for any competing establishment for two years after leaving their position.

Here, a competitor is defined as “any business which derives more than ten percent of its revenue from selling submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches and which is located within three miles of either [their current place of employment] or any such other Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shop.”

What makes this noncompete clause so remarkable, according to the attorney representing the employees, is that it would effectively prohibit a former Jimmy John’s employee from working in areas covering 6,000 square miles in 44 states.

As eye opening as this noncompete clause might be, legal experts indicate that the likelihood of it actually being enforced by courts across the nation is relatively low. That’s because 1) noncompete clauses are typically reserved for employees in sales or employees in high-ranking/high-demand/high salaried positions, 2) noncompete clauses must be narrowly tailored, and 3) noncompete clauses must protect a legitimate business interest.

Despite the fact that it would likely be unenforceable, however, experts indicate that the noncompete clause could still serve to unfairly dissuade Jimmy John’s employees from seeking similar employment as they fear potential legal action being taken against them.

All of this serves to underscore the very important point that anyone asked to sign a noncompete agreement as a condition of employment should strongly consider speaking with an attorney beforehand. While this may seem like an impossible maneuver given your tenuous position as a prospective hire, it’s imperative to remember that you have a right to do this and you don’t want to unwittingly sign away the rights that you weren’t even aware you had.

It also serves to underscore how those who feel they are being victimized by unfair and overly broad noncompete agreements should consider speaking with an experienced attorney to learn more about challenging its enforcement in a court of law.

Please visit our website to learn more about your rights and your options. 

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