There have been new developments in the case of Jimmy John’s and their non-compete agreements. A federal judge in Illinois has declined to grant an injunction that would keep Jimmy John’s franchise owners from enforcing the non-compete agreements that all employees are forced to sign.
The suit was brought by two former employees of a Jimmy John’s franchise, who claimed they were shorted on pay, and who included in the suit a request that the judge bar all Jimmy John’s franchises from enforcing the non-competes.
U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras disagrees with the plaintiffs on the nature of the non-compete agreements. He said that since neither of the plaintiffs had had their non-compete agreements enforced when they left Jimmy John’s, then it was not an “oppressive” requirement as they claimed in their suit.
A brief recap: Jimmy John’s, the popular sandwich chain, requires all employees, even the hourly high school students who make your sandwiches, to sign non-compete agreements when they begin work. These agreements bar them from working at any competitors, defined as any business who receives at least 10% of its sales from sandwiches and is located within three miles of any Jimmy John’s franchise, for two years after leaving the company.
This can effectively cripple an employee’s ability to seek other work they are qualified for if they no longer wish to work at Jimmy John’s. That is, if the agreement is enforced, which is where the judge’s decision comes into play. Since the agreements were not enforced in the case of the two plaintiffs, the judge saw no reason to keep the company from continuing to require them from workers.
While the non-compete agreements were not enforced for these two sandwich makers, it doesn’t mean others were not imposed. Despite the stumbling block, we expect there to be further challenges.
It does appear that most Jimmy John’s franchise owners do not enforce the agreements, which raises the question: Why are employees even required to sign them in the first place? The issue is not that Jimmy John’s is enforcing the agreements, but that they have the ability to.
Non-compete Attorney Andy Arnold
What was once limited to high-level company executives, now employees in all types of careers are finding themselves trapped in South Carolina non-compete agreements. Employment lawyer Andy Arnold has been helping people like you beat their non-competes for more than 20 years. Contact us at 864-242-4800.