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How to Avoid Antitrust Claims When Conducting Wage Surveys: Part 1

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.

As a company, it is important to utilize benefits survey data, compensation surveys and salary reports. Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you to hire and retain a happy, talented team.  WageWatch surveys over 5,000 hotels, resorts and casino properties in the United States and the Caribbean.  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. Additionally the WageWatch Compensation Consulting Team is available to assist you with all of your compensation needs such as pay structure design and implementation, market competitive analysis, internal equity audits to address employer concerns and add creditability to pay practices and much more. For more information, please contact WageWatch at 480-237-6130 or contact us online.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2013 at 6:39 AM and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.