Antitrust & Intellectual Property

No-Poach Agreements and Employee Antitrust Lawsuits

No-Poach Agreements Violate Fundamental Employee Rights

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 “no-poach” agreements. In 2015, that case resolved for settlements totaling $435 million, the largest resolution in history of antitrust claims in an employment setting.

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.”

Unfortunately, the practice of companies secretly agreeing to avoid competing among themselves for employees continues, and continues to artificially suppress employee pay and career mobility and advancement.

Lieff Cabraser continues to investigate and bring cases on behalf of employees whose compensation and mobility have been suppressed as a result of non-compete agreements between employers.

Duke/UNC “No-Poach” Employee Antitrust

In 2019, Lieff Cabraser won a $54.5 million settlement and the American Antitrust Institute’s 2019 award for “Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice” for our successful representation of Danielle M. Seaman, M.D. and a class of over 5,000 academic doctors in a federal class action lawsuit against Duke University and the University of North Carolina Health Care System alleging that an agreement between the defendants not to compete for certain of each other’s employees (a “No-Hire” pact) illegally suppressed employee compensation. The settlement includes an unprecedented role for the United States Department of Justice to monitor and enforce extensive injunctive relief.

U.S. Department of Justice Announces Plans to Bring Criminal Actions Against No-Poach Violators

In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission issued Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals. In it, the DOJ and FTC announced that they intend to proceed criminally against naked wage-fixing or no-poaching agreements.

In 2018, numerous reports surfaced indicating that the DOJ is preparing to bring criminal cases against employers who enter into wage-fixing or no-poaching agreements.

Contact an Employee Rights Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

The antitrust and employment lawyers at Lieff Cabraser work vigorously to defend employee rights and fight these abuses. If you or someone you know suspect they have had their opportunities or pay suppressed as a result of no-poach or other agreements, we urge you to contact Antitrust Practice Group partner Dean M. Harvey today for a free, confidential, and no-obligation review of your case. The information you provide will help us hold companies accountable for violations of antitrust and employee protection laws.


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