DOJ Joins Forces With Labor Board to Crack Down on Employer Collusion

Agreement among agencies joins recent administration moves aimed at strengthening workers’ bargaining position

July 27, 2022


The antitrust division, which has the power to bring criminal charges, will apply “extraordinary vigilance” to protecting workers’ right to earn a fair wage, said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, who heads the division.


In addition to coordinating on enforcement, the interagency agreement also calls for the two agencies to train each other’s staff and consult regularly.


Tuesday’s move follows a series of actions by President Biden’s administration in recent months to direct the government’s powers toward strengthening the position of workers. The administration in particular has focused its attention on the “gig economy” of independent contractors working for companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Inc., a group of workers who lack many of the legal protections afforded to those hired as employees.


Mr. Kanter said the Justice Department wants to ensure workers are properly classified under labor laws. His agency has previously expressed concern that a company’s gig workers classified as independent contractors might be barred from banding together to bargain for better working conditions and pay, since US competition law normally bars independent contractors from coordinating.


Last week, the NLRB entered into a similar agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, an agency that both reviews mergers and takes action against deceptive practices by businesses. The FTC said that it would scrutinize mergers that hurt competition in labor markets, and take action against gig economy companies that lie to workers and job seekers. The two agencies also vowed to work together on investive efforts and cross-train staff...