A plaintiff has filed a class action lawsuit in Michigan against Jimmy Johns. Jimmy Johns has all of its employees execute non-compete agreements from executives right down to sandwich makers and delivery drivers. The suit claims that there is no legitimate business interest in having sandwich makers and delivery drivers sign a one-size-fits-all non-compete. It is difficult to image what sort of legitimate business interest is being protected by having sandwich makers and delivery drivers sign a non-compete agreement other than to intimidate them from working for any competing enterprise, which in and of itself, the stifling of competition, is prohibited under most anti-trust and non-compete laws. We have cautioned in many articles on this website against a one-size-fits-all non-compete and to assess whether or not a non-compete is appropriate for a given level of employee.
It will be interesting to see the result of the Jimmy Johns’ class action case. A one-size-fits-all non-compete agreement that covers your business is likely to be found invalid in some respect especially concerning low-level employees who may not have any significant proprietary or confidential information, and therefore would not justify a non-compete as sustaining a legitimate business interest.
Traverse Legal has non-compete attorneys that can advise you where that line may be drawn with respect to whether your non-compete agreements are protecting a legitimate business interest, or simply may be found as unfairly compromising a lower-level employee’s ability to find other employment. Contact the attorneys at Traverse Legal for an assessment of your non-compete agreement and for advice on the proper application of a non-compete agreement in your work place.