Lieff Cabraser’s Labor Antitrust practice group leads the nation in representing workers asserting antitrust and competition claims against employers. It is the first practice group of its kind, bringing together the expertise of both antitrust and employment lawyers to ensure that workers receive the benefit of free competition for their labor.
No-Poach Agreements Violate Fundamental Employee Rights
The antitrust laws protect workers against efforts by rival employers to limit competition for each other’s employees. Employers cannot agree to prohibit hiring, soliciting, or recruiting each other’s workers. These “no-poach” agreements are illegal, and violate the antitrust laws. When not reasonably necessary to a legitimate business activity, no-poach agreements are criminal violations of the antitrust laws.
Workers whose pay and mobility have been suppressed because of “no-poach” agreements have the right to seek lost income and to put an end to the unlawful restrictions.
Other Unlawful Agreements That Suppress Pay or Restrict Mobility
Employers also cannot agree to set pay levels, or otherwise coordinate employee pay. For example, rival employers cannot share pay information with the intent to reduce competition and thereby lower worker pay.
Unequaled Success and Reputation
In 2011, Lieff Cabraser filed a groundbreaking class action against seven of the world’s largest tech companies, including Apple, Google, and Intel, alleging a conspiracy to suppress employee pay through anticompetitive “no-poach” agreements. That case was resolved for settlements totaling $435 million, the largest resolution in history of employee claims against private employers. The Daily Journal described the case as the “most significant antitrust employment case in recent history,” adding that it “has been widely recognized as a legal and public policy breakthrough.” The case later became the subject of a documentary: When Rules Don’t Apply.
Lieff Cabraser later represented a class of over 5,000 academic doctors at Duke University and the University of North Carolina regarding an understanding between the schools not to compete for each other’s faculty. That case resulted in a settlement of $54.5 million (approximately $10,000 per class member) and unprecedented injunctive relief, including an important enforcement role for the United States Department of Justice. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Delrahim remarked: “Permitting the United States to become part of this settlement agreement in this private antitrust case, and thereby to obtain all of the relief and protections it likely would have sought after a lengthy investigation, demonstrates the benefits that can be obtained efficiently for the American worker when public and private enforcement work in tandem.”
Lieff Cabraser was Co-Lead Class counsel of a nationwide class of workers who alleged a conspiracy between the world’s two leading rail equipment suppliers to suppress the pay of their employees. That case led to total settlements of $48.95 million.
Lieff Cabraser is also Co-Lead Counsel in several cases against the nation’s leading fast food franchisors, challenging agreements that prohibited franchisees and franchisors from competing for each other’s workers.