By Courtney Kueppers

Star Tribune Staff Writer

Evidently Jimmy John’s doesn't want its employees using their “freaky fast” sandwich-making skills at other sandwich shops. The company, along with some other retailers, requires low-wage workers to sign agreements which specify that they will not work for competitors if they leave their jobs.  

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) called those agreements "ridiculous."

Franken said it is disturbing that low-wage workers would be asked to sign a non-compete agreement. But to make matters worse, he said workers often aren't’t told that their jobs include the restriction as a condition of their employment.

To address the issue, Franken and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have introduced the Mobility and Opportunity for Vulnerable Employees - or MOVE - Act. The bill would ban non-compete agreements for employees making less than $15 an hour or $31,200 annually. 

The MOVE act would also require employers to tell prospective employees at any level of pay if they might be asked to sign a non-compete agreement. 

Non-compete agreements for low-wage workers discourage those employees from seeking higher-paying jobs within the same industry, according to a press release from Franken’s office. The MOVE act would enable employees stuck in low-paying positions to seek higher-paying jobs without fear of their employer taking legal action against them. 

As for why employers would want to hold low-wage workers to non-compete agreements, Franken said, “I guess it’s because they can.”

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