Why are These Fast Food Employee Agreements Being Investigated?

fast food workers at McDonald's

As the employment rate goes up, the more competitive it is to find workers, especially in the fast food sector. 

Some chains like Chick-fil-A are enticing employees by offering $17+ an hour and by providing other benefits like college sponsorships. 

Once workers are hired, there appears to be a way to keep employees employed and to stop them from going to another foodservice job.

This week, an investigation was launched where 10 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia are looking into noncompete clauses included in employment agreements at fast food establishments, put in place to limit staff on where they can work after they leave. 

Although noncompete clauses are common in several industries, investigators are looking into if franchisees are taking advantage of these clauses and using them to stop employee "poaching." 

"Traditionally, such clauses are in high-tech companies that want to protect trade secrets and keep top executives from jumping to work for a competitor. But such restrictions are also used by fast-food franchises where they agree not to recruit or hire workers who work for other franchisees in the same chain," writes "NPR." "The practice is coming under increasing fire from regulators and lawmakers who are concerned that it limits workers' ability to get new and better jobs."

Some of the chains being included in the investigation, include Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, Panera, Dunkin' Donuts, and more. 

Regulators argue that these noncompetent clauses aren't justified for low-wage restaurant workers. 

"All you're doing there is holding people back; you're driving down wages and benefits and decreasing opportunity," said Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's attorney general to "NPR," who also said that 80 percent of food operators use these agreements. "We see that as being wrong, potentially violative of the law, which is why we are leading this investigation and trying to get to the bottom of it."

Read more about this investigation at "NPR."