UnitedHealth Group and Others Slapped With a Class Action Lawsuit for Allegedly Entering into No-Solicitation Conspiracy

In a recent post, we highlighted two recent criminal cases brought by the Department of Justice.  One of those cases is back in the news as a consequence of a civil class action.  United Healthcare, one of the companies the DOJ claimed entered into an illegal no-solicitation agreement with Surgical Care Affiliates, is now being sued in a civil action over the same activity. 

In Spradling v. Surgical Care Affiliates, L.L.C. et al., Civ. No. 1:21-cv-01324 (E.D. Ill.), filed March  9, 2021, the employer is accused of violating the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act.  The named plaintiff accuses the companies of entering into a no-poach agreement with the intent and purpose of depressing salaries no later than 2010 and into 2017.  The complaint alleges that by agreeing not to poach or hire senior-level employees, the defendants reduced competition, which in turn suppressed the salaries for these senior-level employees. 

The plaintiffs also complain that the defendants’ actions “denied” otherwise capable senior-level employees “access to job opportunities, restricted their mobility, and deprived them of significant information that they could use to negotiate for better compensation and terms of employment.”  According to the complaint, the companies entered into this no-poach agreement to maximize their profits. 

Relying heavily on the indictment in the Texas criminal case, the complaint alleges that the following should comprise the class:

  • All natural persons who worked in senior-level positions in the United States for one or more of the following: (a) from May 1, 2010, to October 31, 2017, for Surgical Care Affiliates, LLC or one of its subsidiary outpatient medical care facilities; (b) from May 1, 2010, to October 31, 2017, for United Surgical Partners Holding Company, Inc., United Surgical Partners International, Inc. or one of its subsidiary outpatient medical care facilities; or (c) from February 1, 2012, to July 31, 2017, for Company B, or one of its subsidiary.

We will continue to monitor and report on this case.