Sánchez, Crowley Call on FTC, Labor Department to Investigate Sandwich Chain’s Intimidating Hiring Practice for Low-Wage Workers
Members Express Concern Over Jimmy John’s Required Non-Compete Agreements and Impact on Workers’ Rights, Free Competition
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA), co-founder and co-chair of the Labor and Working Families Caucus, called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate the hiring practices of Jimmy John’s sandwich chain following media reports that the company requires low-wage workers to sign non-compete agreements that severely impact workers’ rights and stifle market competition.
In a letter, signed by more than 35 of their colleagues, Crowley and Sánchez expressed concern that company-wide non-compete agreements, which are typically reserved for executives out of a need to protect propriety information, are inconsistent with trade and labor laws and intimidate low-wage workers.
“Non-competition agreements may sometimes make sense for well-compensated core company leadership, who are privy to company secrets and strategies. However, applying them to a company’s entire workforce looks more like bullying under color of law, as well as a violation of labor rights,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter.
Furthermore, the members are troubled by the excessive restrictions reportedly included in these agreements, such as banning employees from working for any establishment that serves sandwiches and operates within three miles of any Jimmy John’s 2,000-plus locations, both while employed by the company and up to two years after their employment has ended.
“Forcing rank-and-file, low-wage workers to sign non-compete agreements also stifles the ability of these workers to seek out new opportunities for their own betterment, and runs counter to the American ideal of open competition, which allows individuals the opportunity to seek employment at higher wages,” continued the letter.
The letter asks the FTC and DOL to investigate Jimmy John’s hiring practices, determine the impact these agreements have on both workers’ rights and free competition, and take action to deter or prevent such agreements from impacting employees.
Today’s letter follows a successful effort by Crowley and Sánchez to secure higher wages for concession workers in federal buildings. In February, the lawmakers led 50 House Democrats in a letter to President Obama urging him to include these workers in his executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. In June, the Department of Labor announced the proposed rule to implement the President’s executive order would include concession workers in federal buildings.