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Should these non-compete agreements be enforced?

In our last couple posts, we’ve been speaking about non-compete agreements and the way they are evaluated by courts in the state of Kentucky. Given all that we have discussed, it is interesting to look at the way a massive online retail company handles its own non-compete agreements with low-wage earning employees.

We are speaking about Amazon. The company recently came into focus after an investigation revealed that the company requires its lowly warehouse workers to sign non-compete agreements. These agreements are nothing to sneeze at, either, as they are positively broad in scope. According to one source, the agreements require employees, for a year and a half after leaving Amazon, to promise not to work directly or indirectly to support goods and services which compete with those offered by Amazon. Even seasonal temporary workers are apparently required to sign these agreements. 

The agreements, critics argue, can possible apply to a wide range of business activity and arguably contain no limitation on geographic scope. Why exactly would Amazon put this burdensome legal obligation on temporary workers? Experts say that part of the reason is that jobs are still hard to come by and Amazon knows it can.

The question of whether Amazon would seek to have these agreements strictly enforced on low-wage workers is open, as is the issue of whether state courts would uphold the agreements. As we’ve pointed, different states have different criteria for determining whether a non-compete agreement is reasonable and therefore enforceable.

In a future post, we’ll muse a bit on how judges in Kentucky might view these agreements.

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