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US Antitrust Suit Against DaVita Over Hiring Practices Begins

 |  April 6, 2022

US prosecutors on Tuesday in Colorado federal court began calling witnesses in a novel criminal antitrust prosecution against dialysis provider DaVita, reported Reuters, DaVita was charged last year along with its former chief executive in a conspiracy to suppress competition for senior-level employees.

Federal prosecutors contend former DaVita chief executive Kent Thiry unlawfully schemed to block top employees and managers at the Denver-based company from getting recruited away by competitors through nonsolicitation deals and other restrictions.

A former DaVita official began testifying on Tuesday morning about the company’s no-poach agreements. The government told jurors it would use text messages and emails, and testimony from former DaVita executives, to show unlawful efforts to restrict employee mobility.

Related: DaVita Must Face DOJ’s Criminal Antitrust Charges

“This is a case about a corporate CEO who wanted control over his employees — not just control over how they did their job, but control over what job opportunities they got and how they’re allowed to leave his company,” Justice Department lawyer Megan Lewis said in her opening statement.

The case is being closely watched as a rare antitrust prosecution focused on labor and employment. The Biden administration has vowed to put a greater focus on competition in labor markets. Prosecutors last year in Connecticut filed criminal charges alleging a similar no-poach conspiracy for aerospace engineers.

The indictment alleges that DaVita participated in separate conspiracies to suppress competition for the services of certain employees, a move that may have contributed to rising costs that were ultimately passed down to consumers or taxpayers.

The federal judge in the DaVita case, R. Brooke Jackson, told jurors on Monday the case is “a big deal” and said “what you folks do with it is going to be heard in other places.”

DaVita faces potential penalties of up to $300 million if found guilty on three counts, according to DOJ records.

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