The relationship between employers and employees in the U.S. most of the time implies that the workers are working at will to earn money, and the employer has no obligation to that employee beyond their set agreement. The arrangement of employment can be terminated at any time.
This idea of a free-work place means that employees can leave a job whenever they decide to. This however, is halted by the 20 percent of workers who cannot get a job with a competitor due to “noncompete clauses” they signed into at the beginning fo the job. Usually, the point of a noncompete is so that high-end employees who essentially know the ins and outs of a particular company, cannot go to another business and put their prior employee out of business. For workers who are earning low-wages, this clause does not make sense.
With regard to protection for employees, there are a few laws in place currently. Some of those include the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, which protect employees from discrimination based on race, gender, religion and nationality. In addition, theres the National Labor Relations Act, which helped to give workers the power to create unions. And then, there are other laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, which helps to ensure that those with disabilities cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. Now this is all well and good, but none of these laws, and no laws in place currently stop employers from giving out non-compete contracts.
Many have pointed out the downsides of such clauses stating that “By locking low-wage workers into their jobs and prohibiting them from seeking better-paying jobs elsewhere (companies) have no reason to increase their wages or benefits,” This was stated by Attorney General Lisa Madigan in regard to suing Jimmy John’s fast-food company for making its employees sign noncompete clauses.
Noncompete clauses only serve to restrict the work-place and make it more difficult for lower-wage workers to find jobs.