DOJ, State AGs Join Forces to Reinstate Suit Against Designers & Saks Fifth Avenue
The U.S. Justice Department and 21 state attorneys general have teamed up to attempt to reinstate a lawsuit claiming that Saks Fifth Avenue and high-end luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton USA, Gucci America and Prada USA were engaging in a conspiracy to suppress retail employee mobility.
According to the proposed class action, the designers agreed not to hire Saks employees for at least six months and the plaintiffs allege Saks suppressed their wages. The defendants deny the allegations.
Chief U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie dismissed the workers’ case after finding that the claims from three former employees at Saks fell outside the four-year window to file an antitrust lawsuit. In the Justice Department’s brief, they stated that “Brodie misapplied the law on the applicable statute of limitations” and that “her ruling, if it is left in place, ‘risks preventing recovery in damages suits when conspiracies last longer than four years.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta weighed in on the topic, stating “No-hire agreements are anti-worker and anticompetitive. They have no place in the labor market.” Attorney for the plaintiffs, Joseph Saveri, added that “There’s probably nothing more fundamental to a person than to be fairly compensated for his or her skills and values.”
The plaintiffs have sought unspecified monetary damages and an injunction barring enforcement of alleged no-poach agreements. It appears as though the U.S. Justice Department and 21 state attorneys general will have to wage a formidable battle to reinstate the lawsuit and protect retail employee mobility.