Amazon Stifles Warehouse Workers, Requires 18-Month-Long Non-Compete Agreements
That's a good question. Here's the deal -- Amazon processes a lot of online orders. Things get especially busy during the holiday season, so it brings on board temporary workers to help fulfill all the additional orders. They're typically paid a few dollars above minimum wage to fetch items off of shelves, box up orders, and other similar tasks. Not exactly white collar stuff, though an Amazon contract obtained by The Verge shows that even temporary warehouse workers aren't exempt from broadly worded non-compete agreements.
Check this out:
During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee’s own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future) that Employee worked on or supported, or about which Employee obtained or received Confidential Information.This type of thing is becoming more common among low-skilled jobs that don't require much, if any, on-the-job training, and seemingly for no other reason than companies can get away with it, plain and simple. It's something that came to light when it was discovered a few months ago that Jimmy John's had it permanent workers sign non-compete agreements that prevented them from working for another sandwich shop within three miles.
"Employee recognizes that the restrictions in this section 4 may significantly limit Employee’s future flexibility in many ways," the agreement states in reference to the non-compete agreement and other clauses. "Employee further recognizes that the geographic areas for many of Amazon’s products and services — and, by extension, the geographic areas applicable to certain restrictions in this Section 4 — are extremely broad and in many cases worldwide."
Those who follow the contract to the letter must also present the non-compete agreement to another potential employer. As one seasonal workers points out, if she were to apply at Sam's Club, a subsidiary of Walmart, she'd have to contact Amazon and ask for permission to work there. At that point, it would be up to Sam's Club to hire her and Amazon to give the final say.
What if they don't follow the contract? It isn't known how aggressively Amazon enforces its non-compete agreement for warehouse workers, though it does have a history of pursuing cases against white collar workers.