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  • By: Moss Bollinger
  • Published: June 21, 2021
Gray stone wall with expertly engraved 'DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE' in bold capitals, forming a striking contrast- Moss Bollinger LLP

The mission of the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (“DOJ”) is “. . . to promote economic competition through enforcing and providing guidance on antitrust laws and principles. The Federal Government enforces three major Federal antitrust laws and other antitrust laws are also enforced on the state level. Antitrust laws prohibit business practices that unreasonably deprive consumers of the benefits of competition, thus resulting in higher rather than lower prices for goods and services.

The DOJ is currently investigating the hiring practices of many entities for potential antitrust violations. This may result in the DOJ, in some instances, criminally prosecuting companies and individuals who enter into illegal agreements with competitors regarding hiring practices, wages, and the solicitation of employees.

In 2016, the DOJ, in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), warned that anticompetitive agreements in labor markets could result in criminal charges for those involved. Since then, the DOJ has publicly remarked on several occasions that criminal enforcement of wage-fixing agreements was one of its highest priorities.

A current target of the DOJ is Taboola, an online advertising company. While Taboola has denied any wrongdoing, the DOJ’s investigation, as well as its broader investigation into the advertising industry, represents the DOJ’s commitment to criminally prosecute anticompetitive conduct in labor markets.

The DOJ has stated in court filings that it considers even non-solicitation agreements to be criminal violations of the antitrust laws:

“Under long-standing precedent, conspiracies between competitors that fall within certain established categories, including agreements to allocate markets, are per se unlawful without further inquiry…Non-solicitation agreements are a type of per se unlawful market allocation.”

Any business entity must be aware of the DOJ’s current aggressive approach to the strict enforcement of antitrust laws. Business enterprises must consider their potential exposure to antitrust violations when dealing with competitors regarding hiring practices, compensation, or any other employment-related issue.

As a worker in California, you have many important rights that must be constantly safeguarded. Even in 2021, many California employers try to work around legal requirements to increase their profits. If you believe that your employer is violating your rights – rights possessed by all California employees – call Moss Bollinger for a free consultation to discuss solutions for asserting and defending these important, valuable rights. Moss Bollinger takes great pride in holding employers accountable for workplace violations that infringe upon the protections afforded every California worker by California law. Contact Moss Bollinger today at (310) 982-2291 or reach us online.

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