Non-competition clauses are traditionally associated with highly skilled jobs, where workers could benefit from specific training in exchange for signing a restrictive contract and learning trade secrets enabling professional development. More recently, these contracts have been moved to low-skilled, low-wage occupations that require little training in the workplace. While companies can impose competition bans on low-wage workers to protect trade secrets from leaks, there is also a cynical explanation: simply deprive competitors of their employees, Lobel said. Non-competitors can also lower workers` wages. Traditionally, a key strategy to prevent employees from switching to a competitor was simply to offer competitive wages, but a company that uses non-compete bans may feel less pressure to pay well. The extension of the low-wage work non-compete clause was known across the country last year, when the Huffington Post reported that Jimmy John had some of his permanent collaborators sign non-cumulative agreements covering sandwich sellers within a three-mile radius of Jimmy John`s sites. Members of the U.S. Congress have called for a federal investigation into the sandwich chain`s use of the agreements. The Amazon contract appears more extreme: not only is it pushed towards temporary workers who have inevitably reduced their chances when they are fired, but it is also explicit in its potentially unlimited geographical scope. Such threats can have very concrete consequences for workers. In the case of Jimmy John, a number of former workers sued the company in part for the so-called “oppressive” effects of the sandwich chain`s non-compete clause. A former employee of Jimmy John in the complaint claims that after leaving the sandwich chain, she accepted a telemarketing job that paid less than she could have won – all because of the sandwich company`s competition bans. The PA recently discovered that Jimmy John`s workers are not the only ones to suffer real consequences by signing agreements that, according to court records, have also entangled matylists, maids and farm workers.
In Massachusetts, a hairdresser forced one of his former hairdressers who had signed up for a non-compete job after taking a job with a competitor. Courts are often hesitant to impose competition bans across the United States, let alone around the world, Garden said, noting that the level of “relevance” is the most important legal test of agreements. Nevertheless, different states have very different conceptions of what is considered reasonable. (In an obvious reference, Amazon`s contract provides that the signatory agrees that “any agreement and withholding in this agreement is appropriate.”) California law prohibits the application of the non-compete clause.