Do you know if you're breaking non-poaching laws?
A no-poach agreement refers to an illegal deal made between competitors not to hire or pursue each other's employees. This could include verbal agreements to written promises to avoid contacting a competitor's employees, and it can land an individual, company—or both with charges.
In fact, the Department of Justice recently prosecuted their first criminal charges for wage-fixing and no-poach agreements between competing employers.
These non-poaching agreements violate antitrust laws and the Department of Justice "will criminally investigate allegations that employers have agreed among themselves on employee compensation or not to solicit or hire each other's employees," according to the guidelines. Why is it important and what should you do?
Communicate with Your Managers At Every Level
These illegal non-poaching agreements can happen at any level, from a plant manager to general manager, so it's important to make all of your managers aware that this type of agreement is against the law.
Some may actually misguidedly consider it to be courteous or respectful to competitors in your market to form a no-poach agreement, so it's important to communicate that they can have serious consequences.
It's important to remember that it makes no difference whether the agreement is informal or formal, written or unwritten, spoken or unspoken.
What should you do if you think your organization may have an agreement like this?
"If a manager identifies an ongoing no-poach agreement, the best course of action is to obtain legal counsel as quickly as possible, according to Nicholas Gaglio, a lawyer specializing in antitrust. "Consulting with a legal team ensures the company can conduct an internal investigation under legal privilege and potentially utilize the DOJ's Leniency Program, which allows companies to avoid prosecution if they are the first to report antitrust violations."
On the other hand, if you think the competition is trying to poach your employees, here are some things you can do:
• Stay ahead of it and hold frequent 1:1 meetings to see if they are happy & fulfilled at work
• Look for signs that they may be actively looking (work anniversaries, attending several conferences...)
• Ask what you can do to help ease their frustrations
• Provide them with fresh new assignments, projects, territories etc.
• Show them they are valued