On July 1, 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland published a memorandum that rescinds two previous memoranda―the Sessions Memorandum and Brand Memorandum―that prohibited Department of Justice attorneys from using noncompliance with federal agency guidance documents as a basis for civil and criminal enforcement cases. Garland’s memorandum states these previous policies were “overly restrictive,” “discouraged the development of valuable guidance” and hindered DOJ’s litigation of cases when relevant agency guidance was available.
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Companies have long sought to prevent their competitors — particularly in skilled fields like life sciences, health care, software development and engineering — from benefiting from the talents and training of their employees.
Examples of such efforts include noncompete agreements between employers and employees, and carefully worded joint venture agreements that prohibit one partner from insourcing the know-how of another partner.
Although noncompete agreements between employers and employees have been subject to scrutiny for years, agreements between employers to restrict solicitation of each other’s employees or to fix employee wages have largely flown under the radar.
In fact, it was not until a little over four years ago that federal antitrust enforcers signaled that such agreements could be presumed illegal and criminally prosecuted. And even that policy change, significant though it was, did not bring an immediate uptick in enforcement activity.
That wait now appears to be over. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has recently been aggressively bringing enforcement actions against labor market collusion, with more cases on the horizon.
To read the full text of this article (originally published in Law360) by Duane Morris partners Christopher Casey, Sean McConnell and Brian Pandya, please visit the firm website.
By Brett M. Feldman and Jessica Linse
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, law enforcement officials throughout the country have publicly committed to aggressively combatting pandemic-related fraud. Those pronouncements have translated into action focused, at least at this early stage, upon frauds which might impact consumers’ health and safety. The first federal civil enforcement action took place on Saturday, March 21, 2020. On that date, the U.S. Department of Justice, in coordination with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, filed the first civil enforcement action against a COVID-19 related fraud. Prosecutors sought an injunction shutting down a website, which purportedly offered to provide “free” coronavirus “vaccine kits” for a $4.95 shipping and handling fee. This request for injunctive relief, which resulted in a temporary restraining order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1345, is likely an omen of more to come. Continue reading “U.S. Department of Justice Files Civil Complaint for COVID-19-Related Fraud”