FTC Investigates Oil Firms Over Hiring, Wages

FTC Investigates Oil Firms Over Hiring, Wages

It isn’t necessarily illegal for companies to agree not to hire each others’ employees or even to exchange salary information, antitrust lawyers say, as long as it is narrowly focused and there is a legitimate reason for it. Companies engaged in a joint venture, for example, might reasonably agree not to hire away the employees involved.

Similarly, the Justice Department and FTC generally permit companies to conduct salary surveys, so long as the study is managed by third party and the data are more than three months old and sufficiently aggregated to make it impossible to tell which company is paying what.

But a general agreement by competitors not to hire each others’ employees—or meetings to discuss salaries—would probably violate the Sherman Act, which bans unreasonable agreements that limit competition.

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