Mapping Jimmy John’s Non-Compete Sandwich Zones

This week it was reported that U.S. sandwich restaurant chain Jimmy John’s requires their deli employees to sign non-compete agreements. This revelation has sparked lots of public dialogue about labor rights, fast food worker unionization and the limits of non-compete agreements.

SigActs - Jimmy John's Logo

Jimmy John’s is headquartered in Champaign, Illinois and has over 2,000 stores in the United States.

The verbiage of a Jimmy John’s employment agreement basically states that for two years after an employee leaves their job, they will not work in the sandwich business anywhere within three miles of any Jimmy John’s location.

As the Huffington Post points out, this creates a nearly 6,000 square mile “employment exclusion zone” in the United States for any former Jimmy John’s employee. In practical terms, this contractual restriction raises an interesting geospatial question about where these former employees can look for other jobs in the sandwich business.

SigActs - Jimmy John's Employees Hard At Work

It was recently revealed that employees at Jimmy John’s, including sandwich makers and delivery drivers, are required to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of employment.

Map guru Brian Timoney of The Timoney Group (@briantimoney on Twitter) pointed out that a map would help add context to this conversation, and SigActs started crunching coordinates. We have put together an interactive map detailing the collision of the three mile “employment exclusion zones” around each of Jimmy John’s 2,000 U.S. stores.

SigActs - Jimmy John's Interactive Non-Compete Map

Click on the image above to access an interactive map detailing all of Jimmy John’s “employment exclusion zones”.

If static maps are more your style, below are visualizations of “employment exclusion zones” around Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in a few major U.S. cities. Anywhere in red, a former Jimmy John’s employee is forbidden from working in the sandwich business for a two year period.

SigActs - Jimmy John's Exclusion Zones - Denver

The places in red on this map of Denver, Colorado are off limits for any former Jimmy John’s employee looking to work in the sandwich business (imagery credit: Google Earth).

SigActs - Jimmy John's Exclusion Zones - Minneapolis

Minneapolis, Minnesota offers few areas for post Jimmy John’s sandwich employment (imagery credit: Google Earth).

SigActs - Jimmy John's Exclusion Zones - Chicago

The “Windy City” of Chicago, Illinois is a stronghold for Jimmy Johns, and a tough place to find a sandwich job for after you hang up your Jimmy John’s apron (imagery credit: Google Earth).

A three mile radius around each Jimmy John’s store seems like a short distance in print, but visualizing the implications of Jimmy John’s non-compete agreement tells a powerful story. Leave your comments and let us know what you think about this issue!

Posted in Business Intelligence, In-depth Analysis, Open Source Intelligence
9 comments on “Mapping Jimmy John’s Non-Compete Sandwich Zones
  1. Looking at the interactive map, I’m baffled as to why there’s a glaring absence of non-compete zones in Champaign-Urbana, IL, Jimmy John’s home base. I expected the whole community to be bathed in red with as many JJ’s locations as there are there. Geocoding error?

  2. sigacts says:

    Great catch, Roger! It turns out we missed 40 stores when we pulled the Jimmy John’s locations. I will get them added to the interactive map right away!

  3. sigacts says:

    The interactive map is now updated with the previously missing locations, including the stores around Champaign-Urbana. Thanks again, Roger!

  4. nan pearl says:

    This should be illegal. How can you deny people the right to work??

    • dh says:

      It may well be unenforceable. For a contract like this to be valid and enforceable, both parties have to be given something of value. Generally, you can’t make an offer to an employee, and then at the end, say, “oh, hey, by the way, you have to sign this document”.

      The basis of contracts are that both parties get something. A judge looking at this contract and how it’s presented could well feel that the employee didn’t get anything. In most cases with a non-compete that will stand-up and be enforceable, the employee is advised from the get go about the rules.

      On top of that, the contract has to have some basis in reality. The last paragraph of the contract states that the corporate parent of the franchising organization is a party to the contract. That strikes me as particularly useful, because the local franchiser isn’t going to have the resources to enforce this. I mean, whats the upside in blocking a guy making $10 an hour from getting a job making the same thing at Subway? What have you really lost? The claim is that the company will suffer irreparable damages if you go to work somewhere else. What would that be?

      The good things about this contract is:

      1. There is a chance it’s not going to stand-up – the employee doesn’t get anything from this contract.

      2. They seem to be angling for an junction, so the worst case scenario is an employee has to give up his new job working at Subway or some other subshop.

      It’s a little weird in that it seems like this contract is designed maybe to prevent one Jimmy John’s from poaching from another Jimmy John’s. That’s unusual and suggests that different franchisee’s have gotten into battle’s over employee recruiting.

      It’s almost worth getting a job at JJ’s location and then testing this in court.

  5. Mike Evanoff says:

    Hey! You made Maps Mania. Congratulations.

  6. ronhummer says:

    Please don’t say that non-compete agreements are unenforceable. I’ve been on one for many years and so are thousands of people across this country. It costs $10,000 in legal fees to fight this.
    Keep in mind that dogs and cat groomers, maids, are also on non-compete agreements. In addition, a 16 girl in Massachusetts was asked to sign a non-compete agreement in order to work in a summer camp.

  7. craig Martel says:

    I’ve had one of their sandwiches, note “ONE” it had two slices of some sort of meat and bread that’s why they are so freaken fast nothing on them……. non competes…… you can not take away a persons tool to work you can how ever…… ask them if you pay them not to play in your park BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY THEM TO STAY OUT!!!!!!!

  8. Tom Clem says:

    I wonder what % of US Jobs, or US population is covered by those buffers. Certainly is troubling.

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