Jimmy Johns – really?

You have likely heard by now of the recent issue with Jimmy Johns sandwich shops, and their desire to have their minimum wage employees sign non-competes (as well as managers, etc.).

Normally, specialty food stores have employees sign confidentiality agreements, that may say (paraphrasing of course) “hey employee, don’t go share our secret sauce recipe when you leave. It’s important to us and you agree not to share it!” But this chain, has decided to take it one step further and prohibit said sandwich makers, from leaving and going to work at another sandwich shop.


Do you really think a part time minimum wage employee can cause financial harm to a huge national chain, by going to make sandwiches at another huge national chain? I don’t. So while I think these provisions are likely unenforceable under Virginia law and it is unlikely the company could ever prove damages, for once, people are standing up for the employee and saying the issue of enforceability is NOT THE POINT.

THE POINT IS, why even ask an employee, or require an employee to sign such a ridiculous contract?

And while I never mind getting back on my soap box, that has been my exact point for years.

While it is great our courts will evaluate these on a case by case basis, and eventually throw out the bad ones – that costs money and takes time. Shouldn’t our law makers be willing to create a few rules that prevents this kind of judicial waste and burden on employees?

Apparently – some folks in Washington Agree.

But really what my friends in DC do is of little matter on this issue. It’s a state law issue and as such I need my friends in Richmond to care enough about workers in the Commonwealth, business growth and development, and the future economic impact on our state to take notice.

So- Richmond, you are hereby on notice. You should start paying attention. Not all contracts are fair. Not all contracts are just. Not all contracts should be allowed under Virginia law.

And Jimmy Johns, I won’t be buying your sandwiches anytime soon… Secret sauce or not.


Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.