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Looking at those Amazon non-competes from a Kentucky perspective

We’ve been talking about non-compete agreements on this blog, first focusing on the various factors judges consider when evaluating the legality of such agreements and then looking at the non-competes to which Amazon.com routinely subjects even temporary warehouse workers. As we noted last time, there are some who think that the Amazon non-compete agreements have a very broad applicability in terms of the type of work and the geographical location in which employees are barred from seeking work after leaving Amazon.

We can only briefly consider the kinds of considerations a judge in Kentucky would give to these Amazon non-compete agreements. That being said, one important factor would be whether the industry of online retail is highly competitive and has a history of employee “poaching.” There is little doubt that online retail is competitive, but it is doubtful whether there is a lot of poaching going on with respect to warehouse workers, particularly seasonal warehouse workers. 

That being said, Amazon is well-known for its speedy shipping service and it could be the case that warehouse workers become privy to a storage and shipping system which has helped to make Amazon successful. Protecting that information could go toward supporting such non-compete agreements, particularly given the fact that warehouse workers, after learning the system, may be able to assist Amazon competitors come up with a better system for themselves.

Also important would be the timing these non-compete agreements are struck. If, as seems to be the case, warehouse workers know from the beginning that they are signing up for a job that requires an extensive non-compete agreement, the more likely they are to be upheld.

Geographically speaking, the Amazon non-compete agreements are potentially very far-reaching, and a Kentucky court would also consider how necessary it is for Amazon to specify such a broad geographic application to the non-compete. Whether or not it is reasonable to prohibit warehouse workers from obtaining similar employment anywhere nationwide at a competitor for a year and a half is questionable.

In our next post, we’ll look at some of the other factors Kentucky judges would consider and how they might apply to these Amazon agreements. 

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