No-poach and wage-fixing agreements – arrangements between companies seeking to prevent or limit the hiring of each other’s employees, or to suppress the wages and/or benefits of their respective current employees are not only currently under the spotlight in the US, but have also been subject to scrutiny by antitrust authorities in the European Union
This month has so far seen two significant actions taken by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division (Antitrust Division) on wage-fixing and no-poach litigation and enforcement matters, which has shed additional light in an enforcement area that has needed it. Over the last few weeks, the Antitrust Division both served up its first indictment in a criminal wage-fixing case, and filed an amicus brief in a “no-poach” case to clarify its view of how the law should be interpreted relating to franchise agreements.…
Continue Reading A Busy Month for DOJ on No-Poach/Wage-Fixing Enforcement Front
On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, head of the DOJ Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DOJ and the Korean Prosecution Service (KPS) that supports increased cooperation between the two agencies in criminal antitrust enforcement and policy development. Delrahim was joined virtually by Prosecutor General Yoon from KPS for the signing ceremony.
In his signing ceremony remarks, Delrahim stated: “The Memorandum of Understanding is a shared recognition of the close ties between our agencies and our commitment to assisting one another in criminal cartel matters… [It] serves to memorialize and formalize what we have been implementing over the past few years.” He went on to highlight DOJ and KPS’s recent collaborations: shared enforcement training, cooperation and coordination on investigations, and exchange of information regarding policy initiatives.
A little over a year after its creation the Procurement Collusion Strike Force has announced its first public indictments. The Strike Force was created to focus on rooting out collusion and related schemes aimed at impeding competition in public contracting. As DOJ made clear when the Strike Force was created, DOJ views price-fixing in government contracting as a particularly harmful since it directly harms U.S. taxpayers. The Strike Force includes prosecutors from both the DOJ Antitrust Division and United States Attorney’s offices, the FBI, and Inspectors General from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service, and the General Services Administration.
A federal grand jury in North Carolina indicted Contech Engineered Solutions LLC and Brent Brewbaker, a former executive at the company for their roles in a nearly decade-long conspiracy to rig bids for aluminum structure projects funded by the United States and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Contech and Brewbaker were also charged with mail and wire fraud arising from acts in furtherance of the conspiracy. The case is part of a larger ongoing investigation into the aluminum structures industry.
The Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s investigation into price-fixing by generic drug companies continues to remain one of the Antitrust Division’s most active matters. This week the Antitrust Division announced that it had indicted Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. (Teva), the seventh company to reach a resolution with the Antitrust Division in this investigation. Teva is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Teva Pharmaceuticals was charged for its role in three separate conspiracies to fix prices for generic drugs. Specifically, it alleges that Teva, in three separate conspiracies, engaged in the sharing with competitors of pricing information for certain generic drugs in advance of price increase announcements. The first alleged conspiracy involved pravastatin, which is a cholesterol medicine, and other generic drugs; the second alleged conspiracy involved drugs used to treat and manage arthritis, seizures, pain, skin conditions, and blood clots; and the third alleged conspiracy involved drugs used to treat brain cancer, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, and hypertension. The Antitrust Division alleges that the conspiracies lasted for a little over two years and began as early as May 2013 and lasted until around December 2015. The estimated amount of gain/loss for each conspiracy is $200 million, $75 million, and $75 million, respectively.
On June 22, 2020 the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (Antitrust Division) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that they had signed an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow for more cooperation and communication between the two agencies.
Although these agencies have worked together in the past, this is the first time the Antitrust Division and the SEC have entered into a formal agreement. The agencies hope that this agreement will improve competition in the securities industry. As SEC Chairman Jay Clayton explained, “As competition is embedded in our securities laws, there are many policy areas where the missions of the SEC and DOJ’s Antitrust Division align, but where our respective areas of expertise differ. By formalizing the exchange of knowledge between our agencies, we aim to foster even greater collaboration and cooperation to ensure that we maintain the efficient and competitive markets that American investors rely on.”
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division recently issued a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS), an oncology center in Florida. FCS admitted to allocating medical and radiation oncology treatments provided to cancer patients in Southwest Florida. In addition, FCS had to pay a $100 million monetary penalty, the statutory maximum. This resolution raises two key issues the DOJ Antitrust Division has been focusing on over the last few years: (1) the use of DPAs to resolve cases, and (2) the interplay between the labor markets and antitrust violations.
Continue Reading DOJ Antitrust Division Enters into Another DPA with a Healthcare Company