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No Hire Agreement Antitrust: Understanding the Legal Implications for Employers

The practice of entering into no hire agreements between competing companies has been a longstanding practice in many industries. However, a recent wave of antitrust lawsuits has brought these agreements into the spotlight and has highlighted the risks associated with engaging in this practice. In this article, we will explore the legal implications of no hire agreement antitrust and what employers need to know to avoid potential liability.

What are No Hire Agreements?

No hire agreements, also known as non-solicitation agreements, are contracts between two or more companies that prevent them from recruiting or hiring each other`s employees. These agreements are often used to protect trade secrets and confidential information by preventing employees from leaving one company and taking their knowledge and skills to a direct competitor.

However, these agreements can also reduce competition in the labor market by limiting employees` job opportunities and bargaining power. When companies agree not to hire each other`s employees, they are essentially creating a monopoly on talent and suppressing wages, benefits, and other employment terms.

The Legal Implications

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been cracking down on no hire agreements as violations of antitrust laws. Antitrust laws are designed to promote competition and prevent monopolies in the marketplace. By limiting job opportunities and suppressing wages, no hire agreements can have a negative impact on competition and violate antitrust laws.

The DOJ and FTC have conducted several investigations into no hire agreements and have brought numerous cases against companies in various industries. In 2010, tech giants Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe settled an antitrust lawsuit for $415 million over alleged no poaching agreements that restricted the recruitment and hiring of each other`s employees. In 2015, the DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit against eBay and its subsidiary PayPal, alleging that they entered into an illegal agreement with Intuit not to hire each other`s employees.

Employers who engage in no hire agreements can face significant legal and financial penalties. Violating antitrust laws can result in fines, damages, and even criminal charges. Employers may also face reputational damage and loss of business as a result of antitrust violations.

How to Avoid Liability

To avoid potential liability for no hire agreement antitrust violations, employers should avoid entering into these agreements with their competitors. Companies should also review their existing agreements to ensure compliance with antitrust laws and consider revising or terminating those agreements if necessary.

Employers should also educate their employees on antitrust laws and the potential risks associated with participating in no hire agreements. Employees should be discouraged from engaging in discussions with competitors about wages, salaries, or employment terms. Companies should also implement policies and procedures to ensure compliance with antitrust laws and regularly train employees on these policies.


No hire agreements may seem like a simple way to protect trade secrets and confidential information, but they can have far-reaching legal and financial consequences. Employers should be aware of the antitrust implications of these agreements and take steps to avoid potential liability. By promoting competition and avoiding anti-competitive practices, companies can create a healthy labor market that benefits both employers and employees.