File this under sleazy employer policies. 

The sandwich chain Jimmy John’s is catching all kinds of flack for a non-compete it asks its sandwich makers and delivery drivers to accept.

We’ll let the non-compete do the talking for us:

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.

Umm … isn’t the point of non-compete agreements to keep executives and upper level managers from taking a company’s intellectual property and trade secrets to a competitor?

How much institutional knowledge could someone whose sole job is to make sandwiches actually posses that an everyday Joe can’t obtain by opening up a Jimmy John’s sub and inspecting its construction?

Meat? Check.

Cheese? Check.

Bread? Check.

Wow! These Jimmy John’s guys are real pioneers.

Now we’re not trying to disparage the chain’s sandwich makers and delivery drivers. We’re sure they’re a hard-working bunch like everyone else. But we doubt the nature of their work exposes them to a lot of “secrets” that could really take down Jimmy John’s if say, Subway, got a hold of them.

That’s what makes this non-compete, which is part of a class-action lawsuit filed against Jimmy John’s and one of its franchisees, particularly cruel.

It only seems to serve one purpose: to exert the company’s will against the class of employees who have the least ability to fight back. It essentially robs the employees’ of a chance to negotiate for higher wages.

We imagine a conversation with Jimmy John’s management going something like this:

Employee: Subway’s paying 50 cents more per hour for the same work. Can I have a raise?

Jimmy John’s: No.

Employee: Well then I’m going to work for them.

Jimmy John’s: Think again. Let me reintroduce you to this non-compete you signed.

Of course, there’s a good chance the non-compete would be deemed unenforceable in a court. But the employees most affected by it would be the least likely to challenge it — because they couldn’t afford to go to court and lose.

We’ll see if it survives the pending court battle after being added to the wage suit last month.

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