Hotel human resource professionals frequently participate in professional associations, industry groups and other organizations formed to facilitate information sharing and networking. Few are aware that such activity, if it involves the sharing of cost-related information such as employee wages and benefits, could give rise to violations of antitrust law or be used as evidence of such violations.
There have been a number of antitrust cases brought by plaintiffs in different industries regarding the exchange of wage and benefit information between competitive employers. Probably the two most noted cases are United States v. Utah Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (1994) and Todd v. Exxon Corp. (2001). While these cases dealt with specific industries, most attorneys practicing in the area of labor relations and antitrust look to these cases for guidance regardless of the industry.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have issued a statement setting forth an antitrust “safety zone” for health care providers who participate in written surveys. They will not be considered to be in violation of antitrust laws if the following conditions are satisfied:
– The survey is managed by a third party;
– The information provided by survey participants is based on data more than three months old; and
– There are at least five providers reporting data upon which a disseminated statistic is based, no individual provider’s data represents more than 25% on a weighted basis of that statistic and any information disseminated is sufficiently aggregated so that it does not allow recipients to identify the compensation paid by any particular provider.
This statement gives guidance specifically to the health care industry. To date, there is not such a case that has been brought in the hotel industry. Although, with the recent surge of labor organization activity going on across the country, our industry should continue to be cautious with regard to how wage and benefit information is shared with competitors.
In our next post, we will discuss precautions to minimize risk if you intend to share wage and benefit information with a competitor.
WageWatch surveys over 5,000 hotels, resorts and casino properties in the United States and the Caribbean. It was the first to leverage the power of the Internet to create the first of its kind, web-based wage and benefits survey tool in 2000. WageWatch’s proprietary survey process enables human resources professionals to access the most up-to-date and accurate wage and benefits data and prepare custom reports based on their needs and requirements. For more information, please contact WageWatch at 480-237-6130 or contact us online.