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Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers 331

Rick Zeman writes: Amazon, perhaps historically only second to Newegg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, has not only subjected their warehouse employees to appalling working conditions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Here's an excerpt from the agreement: "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)."
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Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers

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  • Good Luck (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:44PM (#49356927) Journal

    That's a pretty broad exclusion to be enforceable.

    • that's really fucking ballsy. good work bezos.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It probably isn't enforceable in some states (ie: California).

      • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:59PM (#49357061) Journal
        See the part that says "any product or service". That's entirely too broad. Have you seen the breadth of things Amazon sells? This could probably only be enforced if someone was taking proprietary information about how Amazon does things and improves the processes at a competitor.
        • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:00PM (#49357081)

          But to contest the non-compete you'll have to go to court and fight against Amazon's billions of dollars in financial resources. Even if you win, it'll be long and costly.

          • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:07PM (#49357141) Homepage

            Contesting it in court assumes it becomes an issue.

            Far easier to simply ignore it, not reveal it to a future employer and assume Amazon never finds out that a someone in the bowels of their company ended up in the bowels of another company.

            • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Informative)

              by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:21PM (#49357291)
              Yep. Last time I checked non-competes were not really allowed in my state either, and my guess is that an attempt at enforcing one against a lowly hourly laborer would be laughed out of court.
              • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Informative)

                by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:24PM (#49357323)

                Last time I checked non-competes were not really allowed in my state either, and my guess is that an attempt at enforcing one against a lowly hourly laborer would be laughed out of court.

                Maybe in your state. But there are plenty of US states where the issue isn't so cut-and-dry. And there is plenty of pro-employer case law precedent that can be brought to bear.

                • by DaHat ( 247651 )

                  That still assumes the violation is noticed and acted upon.

                  Seriously, how likely do you think it will be for a former employer to keep track of their ex-employees so closely that this would be a serious issue?

                  • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Insightful)

                    by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:39PM (#49357455)

                    That still assumes the violation is noticed and acted upon.

                    Sure, but most people are risk averse. They aren't going to tempt being sued.

                    Seriously, how likely do you think it will be for a former employer to keep track of their ex-employees so closely that this would be a serious issue?

                    Probably not likely as it is mostly a scare tactic. But to claim that none of the workers are going to be influenced by its presence in their employment contract is silly.

                    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

                      Fair enough, but a warehouse worker isn't going to easily find a job in a place where they store something that Amazon doesn't sell. They aren't going to have a lot of choice but to ignore the non-compete or go on welfare or something.

                      I don't see why you would put a non-compete on a warehouse worker and expect to justify that as protecting your trade secrets.

                  • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Interesting)

                    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @04:44PM (#49357915) Journal

                    It's not really the ex-employer keeping track that you have to worry about. Almost all prospective employers will call for a reference and then they know you are looking into a banned job. But the most troublesome for you would be friends and people you used to work with running into you on the street or something and you letting it slip that you are working somewhere specific. They then either out of amazement or stupidity, end up telling someone else at work and eventually it become common enough knowledge that the management hears about it.

                    It's happened to me before. I've wondered out loud about how some former coworker was doing and someone ends up telling me "just fine, they are working at XYZ now" not realizing they should have used a bit more discretion. Before I knew it, I was in the office being grilled by the boss and almost lost my job by telling them I was talking about someone from school not work when they heard the entire conversation. Thankfully, it turns out in my situation that the former employee already cleared the job with higher up management so the only one in any trouble was me. I soon found another job.

                    • by LDAPMAN ( 930041 )

                      They can call all they want but most companies do not provide references beyond , "yes, he worked here from a to b". Many do not provide any information at all as there is no upside for them doing so and plenty of possible downside.

                • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Informative)

                  by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:38PM (#49357443) Homepage Journal

                  Remember this isn't a criminal offense. Most warehouse workers are 'judgement proof', in that they don't have the assets to pay anything. The court isn't going to say 'you have to quit your job' because it has financial interest in NOT paying for their welfware because they can't work at what they're skilled at due to the non-compete.

                  Amazon would pay more than they could recover pretty much every day the court trial went on. Also, there might actually be enough push-back if they tried to change laws.

                  Personally, I'd like to see a law of 'sure, write up whatever non-competes you want. However, it means that the the employee is still your employee during the non-compete period. Which means you still have to pay them their salary and benefits'. Don't want them working for the competitor for 12 months? You gotta pay them to sit on their ass for 12 months.

                  Finally, it sounds like they stuck the non-compete into their boilerplate employment documents. It's not intentionally targeting warehouse people, though I suppose that with the increasing amounts of robotics in them, it might be deliberate, so said workers don't go describing how the robots work.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    Remember this isn't a criminal offense.

                    No one said it was.

                    Amazon would pay more than they could recover pretty much every day the court trial went on. Also, there might actually be enough push-back if they tried to change laws.

                    So what? Corporations spend tons of money dragging on court cases to attempt to bleed dry the people suing them. Insurance companies are notorious for it. Plus, Amazon has billions in money they can bring to bear.

                    it might be deliberate, so said workers don't go describing how the robots work.

                    Then they would only have them sign a non-disclosure agreement, which is not the same as a non-compete, if that were really the motive.

                    • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Informative)

                      by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @05:17PM (#49358095) Journal

                      While I'm sure this is something to be considered, I'm not sure it is entirely possible. Some states will have restrictions on what can actually be covered by a non compete agreement. In Washington state for instance, a non compete is limited to customer information and contacts and something called good will (however that is defined) and limited to what is reasonably necessary.

                      This is kind of confusing as each state seems to be different to some respect. Some states also have a red line policy where if something is overly broad or not within the law, the entire agreement is tossed out while others will use a blue line approach and only strike out what is in conflict to make the NCA enforceable. Yet there is another process called reformation in which the courts would actually rework the Non-compete in order to make it enforceable
                      (eg, striking out the entire state as overly broad and inserting a metropolitan area or radius of distance from the locations of the employer they determine to be reasonably enforceable)

                      Here is a little more about how it varies in different states [beckreedriden.com]

                      And of course, here is the PDF which charts it

                      http://www.beckreedriden.com/w... [beckreedriden.com]

                      I suspect they have no intention of ever enforcing this non compete. I think it is to scare the workers into not leaving for greener pastures, or better pay/benefits/work conditions.

                  • "Most warehouse workers are 'judgement proof', in that they don't have the assets to pay anything."

                    This also mean that most warehouse workers cannot afford individual legal counsel to advise them that they are judgement-proof, thus are vulnerable to intimidation.

                    But at least they aren't unionized!

          • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Holi ( 250190 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:58PM (#49357613)
            You really think Amazon wants to take the PR hit by suing a contractor who worked in their warehouse for 10 dollars an hour?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      That's a pretty broad exclusion to be enforceable.

      Convenient that warehouse workers tend to have excellent lawyers and be in a strong position to handle the time and trouble of contesting legal matters, isn't it?

      • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ralph Siegler ( 3506871 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:53PM (#49357013)
        Just one lawyer needs to see the "class action" possibilities; those won't cost the workers
        • Yeah and that class action will cost Amazon a fraction of a percent of their yearly revenue while at the same time having scared plenty of their workers from trying to leave and work for anyone else for years while the court battle drags on.

          • depends how hard the court hits them; since they do business everywhere a venue where they are hated would be choice location
            • Unless the court is going to slap them with a $40+ billion fine, Amazon will have reaped in magnitudes more in revenue from these workers than they will pay out in a fine.

              • actually a couple hundred million would be enough to make them seriously consider change their ways. But just a few million they'd laugh off.
          • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:20PM (#49357281)

            But every Amazon warehouse employee will get am Amazon gift certificate for $25.

          • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Insightful)

            by alva_edison ( 630431 ) <ThAlEdison.gmail@com> on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:41PM (#49357469)

            Yeah and that class action will cost Amazon a fraction of a percent of their yearly revenue while at the same time having scared plenty of their workers from trying to leave and work for anyone else for years while the court battle drags on.

            If a contract has something like this in it, I'm guessing there's also language that mandates arbitration (vs lawsuit) and forbids class actions.
            I can't play a modern video game from a major publisher without a clause that mandates arbitration.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Just one lawyer needs to see the "class action" possibilities; those won't cost the workers

          Yup. All the lawyer has to do is find all zero of the warehouse workers that were actually sued or damaged in any way.

          I realize that we are all supposed to be outraged, and equate this to the blood of the workers being used to lubricate the machinery of capitalism. But this is just some standard legal boilerplate, that nobody noticed before, because it has no actual real world consequences.

      • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Insightful)

        by orasio ( 188021 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:12PM (#49357197) Homepage

        In any case, you would need Amazon to actually enforce it.
        While they do have more money for legal fees, they would risk a big PR issue if they tried to prevent some guy from working at Walmart after quitting Amazon. Also, the first guy with such a problem wouldn't have a lot of trouble finding someone to help them with legal fees, if only for the publicity.

        This is probably just a scare tactic, to discourage people from leaving them, it is unethical, but not really enforceable.

        • Re:Good Luck (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:15PM (#49357229)

          This is probably just a scare tactic, to discourage people from leaving them, it is unethical, but not really enforceable.

          It undoubtably is. Most non-competes are only used for this purpose. The problem is that the worker will never know when their company will choose to enforce it.

        • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

          In any case, you would need Amazon to actually enforce it. While they do have more money for legal fees, they would risk a big PR issue if they tried to prevent some guy from working at Walmart after quitting Amazon. Also, the first guy with such a problem wouldn't have a lot of trouble finding someone to help them with legal fees, if only for the publicity.

          This is probably just a scare tactic, to discourage people from leaving them, it is unethical, but not really enforceable.

          More likely, it's a case of megalomania of some middle manager somewhere. Some guy read the article about Facebook "stealing" methods for data centers and thinks the stuff "they invented" in the company is intellectual property worth billions and tries to "protect his ideas."

          The non-competes I have experience with were always some big ego douchebag somewhere, not a real business need. It might be different in some industries, but random software consulting companies just don't need it. Yeah, you can be pr

    • The absolute worst part of this is that it effectively covers any job involved in any way with "any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon" ...which, since Amazon does a little of everything means that it effectively says "you agree not to work anywhere for 18 months after you quit or are fired."

    • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:12PM (#49357195)

      Non-compete agreements should work both ways. If I can't work for a competitor, then you can't replace me with another employee.

  • by schematix ( 533634 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:48PM (#49356957) Homepage
    Overly broad non-competes are almost universally unenforceable. The lawyers writing this non-sense know this.
    • And the silly thing is supposed to apply to seasonal workers as well, so 3-4 months of employment creates an 18-month non-compete clause?

      Yeah, not only should this not be enforceable, but whoever at Amazon thought this was a good idea should have their head removed from their arse.

      • Yeah, not only should this not be enforceable, but whoever at Amazon thought this was a good idea should have their head removed from their arse.

        Why? Amazon management probably loves this. It's a scare tactic and they know they have more than enough money to drag out court battles for the few people who will ever try to fight it.

      • by Fwipp ( 1473271 )

        I'd rather see their head removed from their neck.

    • Sure, they know it's likely not enforceable in some states, but many of the workers will likely have to spend more money than they have in net worth to fight it. Amazon has more than enough money to make the lives of these workers miserable in court.

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:52PM (#49357007) Homepage

      Yes, but they also know you have not got the resources to hire more lawyers than they have.

      Basically this is shitting on your workers to keep them in fear of losing their jobs.

      I always scratch those sections out in contracts. Unless you pay me 100% of my salary for the period of time I'm not allowed to compete, I'm not signing it.

      Crap like this should be illegal. And in many sane places, it actually is.

  • That's bullshit. if ever there were a reason for lawyers, this bullshit serves their purpose in life. Go ahead, enforce this; just go ahead and try.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:48PM (#49356969)
    for every single case where Amazon tries to enforce this against a warehouse worker. This is absolutely f***ing disgusting.
    • by blang ( 450736 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:57PM (#49357045)

      Yes, it is actually slavery.

      Someone who has signed such a contract would be forced to stay and work in same shitty job with same shitty pay forever if he wants to put food on the table. He has in fact been removed from the competitive part of the workforce unless he is retrained to do something completely different such as teacher or nurse,

      • by Alomex ( 148003 )

        Yes, it is actually slavery.

        You are correct, at least as far as the Supreme Court of Canada and Superior Court of Ontario are concerned. They have ruled time and time again that overreaching non-compete agreements sign away unalienable rights and are thus invalid.

        Noncompetes which are limited in scope on the other hand are routinely upheld.

        IANAL; ASDA

    • Only a million? Amazon pulled in $89 billion in revenue in 2014. Amazon makes a million dollars every 6 minutes. A million dollars for Amazon is like pennies.

      • Revenues aren't profits. All that money needs to go back into the company to keep it afloat. On $89 billion dollar revenues, expenditures exceeded that figure; they lost $240 million last fiscal year. Million dollar fines would definitely hurt Amazon.
        • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:18PM (#49357261)

          On $89 billion dollar revenues, expenditures exceeded that figure; they lost $240 million last fiscal year.

          That "loss" was due to the fact that Amazon basically reinvests pretty much all of their revenue back in the company.

          Million dollar fines would definitely hurt Amazon.

          No, it wouldn't. They would simply reinvest a fraction of a fraction of a percent less back into the company.

        • Better solution would be if people just stopped buying from Amazon. But no, people got to have their stuff online, otherwise they'd be forced to head to a store like some primitive tribes do.

  • by purpledinoz ( 573045 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:50PM (#49356985)
    In Germany, a non-compete clause is only enforceable if compensated, since that goes against the the constitutional right to work where you want. The company has to pay at least 50% of your salary during the non-compete period. That means even if you did sign a non-compete, it's not valid unless the old company is compensating you. Effectively, this forces companies to balance the need for a non-compete with the cost. Effectively, this means only high up people have the clauses in it.
    • by Yebyen ( 59663 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:06PM (#49357131) Homepage

      F$*# that, use California rules. In California, a company that insists on having an invalid non-compete agreement signed by their workers under threat of firing may be liable for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

      Which non-competes are unenforceable/therefore illegal? Basically all of them.

      The only time a non-compete agreement is valid (regardless of consideration) is when the person signing away their rights does it as part of a sale of a business and the goodwill of that business. So, you can't create the next WhateverApp, sell it for $X-leventy billion, write a deal that says you will not compete with the business you just sold, and declare that non-compete invalid under California law.

      But basically every other non-compete is automatically invalid (even when it is for compensation). If you are paid under the terms of a non-compete for your cooperation, and you break the terms of the deal, you will still be entitled to keep what you have received (that deal was not legally binding) and the company's only recourse is to stop sending the payments. They cannot sue you for violation of contract terms.

      Requisite: IANAL but I play one on slashdot.

      • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:12PM (#49357185)

        The German rules make far more sense dude. In some instances a non-compete DOES make sense, and it should be an option.. but it shouldn't be used to handcuff someone to a company.

        Attaching a monetary cost for the company protects employees from abusive employers, and let's a company protect their inside information / processes for a bit.

        • by Yebyen ( 59663 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:31PM (#49357401) Homepage

          I don't know, I like the fact that the non-compete is only valid while the payments are ongoing, but I think it's still going to be a problem for a lot of people if they are forced to sign a paper that says they can be terminated and barred from working for the competition in exchange for 50% of their salary ongoing.

          If I was a specialist, I would consider the threat of losing 50% of my salary to be very tough to cope with, but losing 100% even harder. California rules recognize that when the "consideration" is "you get/keep the job" that's pretty much the definition of duress, it's Hobson's choice, it's not really a choice at all. You sign the paper because you want to keep your job, or you need to have the job.

          You are free to reject the non-compete, as an added bonus you get to lose your job and you may not be entitled to unemployment or any severance package for your refusal to cooperate.

          I have never been a business owner, and it's good to get different perspectives. I can see how it would be attractive to get 50% of what you're paid for not working anymore. As a knowledge worker I have a hard time imagining a scenario where it's worthwhile for me to give up on making money at what I've been training to do since high school for any length of time. Maybe I am imagining the scope of a non-compete to be larger than it is in fact.

          Maybe I would see it differently if 50% of my salary was a bigger number ;)

    • That's not just Germany, that kind of law is also in Massachusetts. (where Amazon doesn't have a warehouse..)

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:29PM (#49357381)

      In Belgium when you have a non-compete, you will get what is quoted in the contract. (Unless you start working for the competition)
      It also depends on the job and will have a limited reasonable duration.

      I had one, but unfortunately they annulled it when they fired me.(1) Otherwise I would have been given a year extra payment while working at a company in the same job, but not in the same field.

      I know somebody who started working for the competition and in the identical job, but they just named the job differently. He never asked the money and the company never followed up on it.

      I know of somebody else who was forced to leave their new job, but got the money. The law will side with the worker most of the time and unless there is a clear abuse of what is reasonable, then nobody actualy follows up on it.

      If you get fired, most of the time it will be annulled and if people leave, they just go to somebody who is not the competitor.

      All that said, if you are anything like a blue collor worker or an office serf, no way they could stick that to you. I sign them gladly and hope they forget when they fire me when they need to cut back.

      (1)They gave me 5.5 months pay instead of the legal required 3, so that was nice.

    • As understand it:

      Similar rules in all of the US. You must be compensated for agreeing to limit your future work options. The amount is left up to the two parties. But the non-compete can't be a condition of employment. Signing a non-complete when you get the job is generally considered unenforceable. Which is why they try get you to sign it again when you leave and are handing you severance pay. Then they can say they did compensate you and you agreed.

      • by Yebyen ( 59663 )

        I don't think so. It varies state-to-state.

        In New York, non-compete may be valid if it is limited in scope or duration, regardless of consideration offered. In other words, you can be barred from competition (in your specific industry, for a reasonable specified length of time as determined by the courts) with no specific compensation if that's the terms of the non-compete agreement. Those agreements can be mandatory as a condition of employment.

        So as usual New York State residents are basically fucked.

  • What we need... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:53PM (#49357021) Homepage
    Is punishment for writing bad contracts.

    Right now - with minimal punitive effects - the system encourages people to over-reach when writing such contracts, in the hopes of intimidating people from using their legal rights.

    This effect, rather than a few rare extreme punitive tort cases (i.e. suing because the coffee is too hot), is why we get said contracts and why we have to sign away our rights whenever we decided to go say white water rafting.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      In Belgium I followed a cource on hunman resource law. What they said to me (as employer, not as employee) was that you can basically write everything in a contract, but that does not make it legal. Not only could it mean that a part of the contract can be trown out, but the whole contract can be trown out AND the law will be even more inclined to side with whatever the emplyer tells.

      On the other hand, if the people do not complain within a year after termination, you are good.

      Th ebest defence an emplyee h

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @02:58PM (#49357049)

    Can anyone identify a product or service that Amazon doesn't sell or provide?

    Job prospects are going to be few and far between if you leave Amazon.

  • As I understand it, this is saying that warehouse workers (i.e. the people who do physical labor like moving products from point A to point B, or pack shipments) can't help to develop similar systems for their competitors using what they know about Amazon's practices. This does not seem to stop them from doing manual labor elsewhere.

    This doesn't seem all that concerning to me. AFAIK this is the exact kind of thing non-competes are intended for. Perhaps 18 months is a little long. I'd guess 6-12 months is mo

    • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:13PM (#49357201)

      You're confusing non-dislosure agreements with non-competes. A non-disclosure agreement covers not using proprietary knowledge of one company for the benefit of a future employer. A non-compete is basically trying to ban you from getting gainful employment in the very field in which you have work experience.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      As I understand it, this is saying that warehouse workers (i.e. the people who do physical labor like moving products from point A to point B, or pack shipments) can't help to develop similar systems for their competitors using what they know about Amazon's practices. This does not seem to stop them from doing manual labor elsewhere.

      This doesn't seem all that concerning to me. AFAIK this is the exact kind of thing non-competes are intended for. Perhaps 18 months is a little long. I'd guess 6-12 months is more reasonable.

      But other than that, this doesn't seem all that bad.

      That was my reading too -- they aren't trying to prevent an Amazon warehouse worker from working in a Walmart stock room (even though Walmart and Amazon may be selling the same consumer goods), but are trying to prevent a warehouse worker becoming a Google consultant to help design Google's warehouse operations.

      Sounds like there's some overlap with an NDA but Amazon is probably trying to cover all of their bases to give themselves more ammo in a lawsuit.

  • This is not enforceable even in the US... right?

    RIGHT??

    • In some states. In other states it's a murkier issue. The only way any worker is going to no for sure is to contest it in court which many of these workers will probably lack the resources to do.

  • by mpicpp ( 3454017 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:13PM (#49357203)
    it seems everyone wants everyone else over a barrel.
  • Robots (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:51PM (#49357563)
    That kind of warehouse workers are replaceable in a second and Amazon knows this. If they have to or want to fire one there's a sheaf of a hundred resumes equally qualified to trudge about scanning items and bringing them to the packing area. It's absolute bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. This is the only reason most amazon warehouses aren't replaced by robots now: humans at slave wages cost less.

    source: I once worked in an Amazon warehouse.
  • Worker Cruelty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @03:52PM (#49357567)

    What I found most disturbing about the linked article on working conditions in the Amazon warehouses is that they were trying to get the temps to work harder with vague statements about full time employment. I work as a temp, and every single temp agency in existence has a provision in the contract they have with the employers that the employers will not hire the temp for a period (usually six months) after their last paycheck. I'm smart enough to know that anyone who promises me a full time job is lying, but to try and pull the wool over the eyes of these warehouse workers is unforgivable.

  • by daveywest ( 937112 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @04:01PM (#49357653)

    My wife's employer is an apartment management company. Their HR director copied all the company policies and procedures manuals, then bailed to start a competing firm. A few months later, the company demanded that all employees sign non-competes as condition of continued employment.

    Because she's worked in the company for nearly 15 years, it's unlikely she would find comparable employment in an unrelated field should she decide to leave. We sought the advice of an attorney who offered some great advice. First he said the company would need to undertake legal measures to enforce the non-compete. Theirs did not provide for any penalty against my wife, so even if they were to win in court, there's no consequences, other than her company is out their legal costs.

    Secondly, a non-compete cannot be one-sided, or courts will throw them out. People have a right to work that cannot be forfeited or signed away. Her non-compete was overly broad - both in geography and scope. The language disallowed employees to work in any field the company did business in within the state of Nevada or within 100 miles of any site where they operated. Keep in mind they also demanded the maintenance and landscape workers to sign these non-competes. Our attorney counseled us that those provisions alone would likely nullify the entire document in court. It's not reasonable to tell the guy who mows your lawn that he needs to move across the country if he ever wants to work in yard care again.

    I suspect Amazon's warehouse workers would fall under the same protections. Nothing about putting product in a cardboard box is proprietary. This is just some idiot middle manager trying to intimidate employees in an effort to reduce turnover.

  • Remind me again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TechNeilogy ( 2948399 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @04:29PM (#49357817)
    what the "free" in free enterprise is supposed to mean?
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday March 27, 2015 @06:11PM (#49358365)
    Well, that didn't take long:

    Amazon is to remove a ''non-compete'' clause from its employment contracts for US workers paid by the hour after criticism that it is unreasonable to prevent such employees from finding other work.
    A company spokeswoman confirmed to the Guardian that the clause would be cut.
    ''That clause hasn't been applied to hourly associates, and we're removing it,' 'she said.
    The company would not disclose the breakdown of its staff by geography or hourly pay and salary. No UK employment contracts for hourly workers contained such non-compete clauses.

    Amazon further required laid-off employees to reaffirm their non-compete contracts in order to receive severance, reported the Verge.

    Amazon to remove non-compete clause from contracts for hourly workers [theguardian.com]

  • Here in the EU, if there are terms in an employment contract that effectively mean a non-compete for X length of time after leaving that employment, they are completely unenforceable once the employment contract is terminated. The key terms are "contract" and "terminated". The contract no longer exists legally once the employment is terminated.

    If a company wants non-compete methods, then they have to request that the newly-ex-employee sign a new contract to not compete with the previous employer's competitors, and in every case that I have heard of, the monetary terms for that non-compete had to be very very generous in order for the newly available employee to not work for the next 6 to 18 months in the business. Some in this situation went on training courses to stay current, others branched out into differing areas of work, all while getting handsomely paid not to work for the competitor.

    Amazon have their head up their ass regarding the treatment of their employees for a long time in the US, and it'll come back to bite them. At least in the EU the employee protection legislation prevent such entities from taking that level of advantage of their employees. I'll be glad if/when karma comes back to burn Bezos and gang over their unethical actions and general mistreatment of their staff.

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @09:15AM (#49360879) Homepage Journal

    "As a current employee of Amazon and looking for a different work, with reference to Non-Compete document# xxx I have signed, I am requesting a comprehensive list of jobs and domains which I'm forbidden to participate in. Currently my job as a janitor of warehouse X leaves me with very little to no knowledge of what products or services are in development, manufacture, marketing, sale , offered or otherwise provided by Amazonof any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon, and especially the ones it intends any of the above in the future. Since I must know if I'm allowed to perform any of jobs there are openings for, I require this information, so that I don't violate my Non-Compete."

    "Please deliver the printed list to my house at [...], as I'm unable to rent a truck to take it home from work."

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