I’ve probably gobbled up 800 inches (67 feet) of Jimmy John’s turkey subs in the last five years (that’s 100 sandwiches). But no more. Sometimes a company’s employment practices will cause me to say, “no thank you.” After reading Neil Irwin’s piece in today’s New York Times, When the Guy Making Your Sandwich Has a Noncompete Clause, I have to say I lost my appetite. Mr. Irwin hit the nail on the head:
These stories all expose the subtle ways that employers extract more value from their entry-level workers, at the cost of their quality of life (or, in the case of the noncompete agreements, freedom to leave for a more lucrative offer).
What’s striking about some of these labor practices is the absence of reciprocity. When a top executive agrees to a noncompete clause in a contract, it is typically the product of a negotiation in which there is some symmetry: The executive isn’t allowed to quit for a competitor, but he or she is guaranteed to be paid for the length of the contract even if fired.
Jimmy John’s appears to have demanded the same loyalty as the price of having a low-paid job hourly job making sandwiches, from which the worker could be fired at any time for any reason.