Departments of Labor, Justice strengthen partnership to protect workers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division signed a memorandum of understanding today to strengthen the partnership between the two agencies to protect workers from employer collusion, ensure compliance with the labor laws and promote competitive labor markets and worker mobility.
The continued partnership supports the objectives of President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, signed on July 29, 2021.
"Protecting competition in labor markets is fundamental to the ability of workers to earn just rewards for their work, to live out the American dream, and to provide for their families," said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. "By cooperating more closely with our colleagues in the Department of Labor, we can share enforcement information, collaborate on new policies, and ensure that workers are protected from collusion and unlawful employer behavior. Protecting the right of workers to earn a fair wage is core to the work of both our agencies, and it will continue to receive extraordinary vigilance from the Antitrust Division."
"Anticompetitive practices harm both workers and high-road employers," said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. "The Department of Labor looks forward to collaborating with the Antitrust Division to ensure there is a level playing field in the labor market and that workers receive their fair pay. Through this partnership, we will work together to tackle unlawful behavior that we are seeing across industries – including misclassification and wage fixing. This is an important moment in recognizing that protecting competition protects workers. Working with the Department of Justice to root out these unscrupulous practices will help us empower workers and improve job quality."
The Departments of Justice and Labor share an interest in promoting competitive labor markets. Both agencies are charged with protecting workers who have been harmed or may be at-risk of being harmed by anticompetitive and unlawful conduct, including through the use of business models designed to evade legal accountability and business practices, such as illegal agreements to fix wages or inappropriate use of noncompete agreements, that cause direct harm to employees.
The MOU signed today by Assistant Attorney General Kanter and Solicitor Nanda announced new steps the two agencies will take to strengthen this partnership. Through greater coordination in information sharing, enforcement activity and training, the two agencies will maximize the enforcement of federal laws, including worker protection laws under the Labor Department’s jurisdiction and the antitrust laws enforced by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. In particular, this MOU will allow the two agencies to refer cases of potentially illegal activity to each other, as appropriate, and to coordinate on policy, strategy, and training.
This announcement follows the Department of Treasury releasing a report March 7 highlighting how lack of competition affects workers’ wages and opportunities. The MOU is a further step for the departments in addressing some of the challenges highlighted in the report.
The Labor Department is responsible for protecting and empowering workers through enforcing and administering standards on wage and hour, mine safety, workplace-related benefits, occupational safety and health, and whistleblower protection. The Justice Department is charged with promoting and protecting competition by enforcing the antitrust laws of the United States.
Information about possible antitrust violations or potential anticompetitive activity should be reported to the Antitrust Division Citizen Complaint Center. Learn more about how to seek whistleblower protection under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act.