WASHINGTON — Today, in response to reports that Jimmy John’s sandwich shops and other retailers require their low-wage workers to sign non-compete agreements, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced their new Mobility and Opportunity for Vulnerable Employees (MOVE) Act, which will enable low-wage workers to seek higher-paying jobs without fearing legal action from their current employer. The MOVE Act will ban the use of non-compete agreements for employees making less than $15 an hour, $31,200 per year, or the minimum wage in the employee’s municipality, and will require employers to notify prospective employees that they may be asked to sign a non-compete agreement.
Research shows that employers force anywhere from 8-15% of low-wage workers to sign non-compete agreements in an effort to dissuade those workers from seeking better, higher-paying jobs within the same industry. This unfair use of non-compete agreements has a chilling effect on the upward economic mobility of low-wage workers and stifles their ability to climb out of poverty. By outlawing the use of non-compete agreements for low-wage workers, the MOVE Act will allow those currently stuck in their low-wage jobs to secure a better life for themselves and their families.
Murphy and Franken’s MOVE Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
“Non-compete agreements hidden in low-wage worker contracts deliberately trap these workers in low-paying jobs – and that’s unacceptable,” said Murphy. “I worked hard on this bill because I believe that if you’re making less than $15-an-hour, the government has a moral duty to stop companies from exploiting your hard work by preventing you from using your skills and experience to work your way up. The MOVE Act helps low-wage workers by opening new doors and providing them the freedom to pursue better career opportunities.”
“Day after day, hard-working Minnesotans are going to work just trying to make a better life for themselves and their families,” said Franken. “Forcing lower-wage workers to sign ‘non-compete agreements’ makes it harder for these workers to find new jobs and stay employed. Agreements like these stifle fair competition and harm workers. We need to challenge this practice, and change the law to protect people who are simply trying to make ends meet. Our bill will fix this issue by removing unnecessary employment barriers that hurt everyday Americans.”