First DOJ Criminal Wage-Fixing Antitrust Suit Moves Forward

A US Justice Department criminal antitrust case alleging a wage-fixing conspiracy for physical therapy services in Texas survived an early hurdle on Monday when a federal judge rejected bids to dismiss charges, reported Reuters.

US District Judge Amos Mazzant III ruling in Sherman, Texas, federal court kept in place antitrust claims against two defendants charged in April in the Justice Department’s first criminal indictment for an alleged effort to restrain wages.

The Texas case has attracted substantial attention within major US law firms as a warning that U.S. enforcers will not shy from pursuing price-fixing charges concerning labor. The Biden administration has said labor markets will be a top focus for antitrust enforcement.

Mazzant’s ruling embraced a broad view of the reach of price-fixing conspiracy claims. Courts, he said, have not limited such “conspiracies to agreements concerning the purchase and sale of goods but have found them to cover the purchase and sale of services.”

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