The latest "anti-poaching" antitrust case - a class action filed in Illinois against Surgical Care Affiliates ("SCA") and United Surgical Partners International ("USPI") - demonstrates the significant, real world risk of criminal and civil penalties arising from competitor agreements not to compete for talent. The case follows on the heels of a criminal indictment filed against SCA by DOJ in Texas this January and continues the tremendous uptick in cases since DOJ and FTC issued their Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals in 2016. Proactive compliance policies and education are the best way to minimize risk as business leaders often fail to recognize the risk in these arrangements.
An individual filed a class-action complaint on Tuesday against his former employer, Surgical Care Affiliates LLC (SCA), and affiliated entities, alleging Sherman Act and Clayton Act violations through lowering employee wages in an anticompetitive conspiracy among other companies in the market. The Northern District of Illinois lawsuit came on the heels of a Jan. 5 Department of Justice criminal indictment against SCA, claiming the company and others were colluding to control the labor market.