April 14, 2020 / 12:54 AM / 2 months ago

U.S. regulators warn companies against collusion to limit essential workers' wages

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The two U.S. antitrust enforcers said on Monday that they would be keeping a sharp eye on companies to ensure that they do not seek to exploit nurses, doctors, store clerks and others working despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission said in a joint statement that they were aware that there would be unusual collaborations during the effort to bring the new coronavirus under control, but that they would be watching employers to ensure they do not work together illegally to push down wage rates in violation of antitrust law.

The release did not cite an incident that prompted their concern.

“We will not stand for any collusion among employers that would deprive workers of competitive compensation for their hard work,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement.

The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division would prosecute companies who fix wages or agree to illegal no-poach pacts, making it harder for workers to move to another company to get a higher salary, the statement said. The FTC would prosecute companies who invite others to collude with them.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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