Well, it turns out that it came to the attention of others, as well, and in far higher places. Like...Congress.
Some House Democrats are in the process of sending a letter to both the Federal Trade Commission and Labor Department to look into the company's practice.
The letter comes from by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), who is vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.).
"There is no justifiable business interest in imposing such a restriction on restaurant employees that are not privy to any of the company’s proprietary information. Furthermore, we believe this practice can intimidate working individuals, many of whom are struggling to support themselves and their families while earning barely above the minimum wage."
The two agencies are asked to "investigate this practice, determine the impact these agreements have on both workers’ rights and free competition, and take any necessary action to deter or prevent such agreements from impacting employees."
Apparently the "non-complete clause" is up to individual franchises, rather than a company-wide requirement. And there have not been any reports of it yet being acted upon against any employees. "Yet" being the operative word. But than, as the two representatives note, as did my initial story, the clause can be used very effectively as a threat, even if never put into action.
And yes, somewhere in the hierarchy of Jimmy John's, some lawyer thought this was a Really Great Idea -- and people up the chain of command agreed.
Hey, at least their sandwiches come fast, even if the thought process might occasionally have a logjam...