In 2016, sandwich chain Jimmy John’s made headlines when it agreed to stop requiring its workers to sign noncompete agreements through a settlement with the attorneys general of New York and Illinois. The case caught many worker advocates by surprise. It is well known that, in an effort to protect company trade secrets, corporations often require CEOs and top talent to sign agreements not to join rival firms for a certain period of time. But Jimmy John’s was requiring low-wage sandwich-makers—workers unlikely to hold valuable company secrets—to agree not to work for rival sandwich shops for up to two years after their employment ended.
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Senior Director, American Worker Project