Employee Q&A: Antitrust Compliance Edition

For many, navigating antitrust and competition law is not intuitive. Having access to experts on the topic when issues arise can help employees make better decisions that won’t land your organization in hot water with government agencies.

What is Antitrust?

“..to protect the process of competition for the benefit of consumers, making sure there are strong incentives for businesses to operate efficiently, keep prices down, and keep quality up.”
Reference: Federal Trade Commission – The Antitrust Laws

With the confidential Q&A function in our new Antitrust and Compliance Training course, learners have access to some of the most experienced antitrust experts in the business.

Bob Connolly is a veteran prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice who responsible for investigating and prosecuting some of the highest-profile antitrust cases in U.S. history.

Jarod Bona is a nationally recognized antitrust lawyer who has counseled and defended many of the largest companies in the U.S.

Check out some of the questions asked by our learners with answers from the experts.

Employee Q&A: Top Workplace Questions About Antitrust Compliance

Q: Could something violate my company’s antitrust policy even if it doesn’t violate the law?

A: Yes, it could. Most antitrust policies do more than just say “don’t violate the law.” They often address issues like disclosing confidential information to competitors about like pricing, contract terms, products, market share, customers or market plans. This kind of conduct could violate a company’s policies – even if it does not technically amount to violation of competition laws. And remember that violating a company policy – about antitrust or otherwise – could result in discipline or even termination even if it doesn’t violate a law.

Q: Do I have to get permission from legal or compliance before I attend a trade show?

A: It depends on your company and procedures. Legal or compliance teams often like to know that people will be attending a trade show. At very least, employees in most companies need to at least get permission from their leadership to attend a trade show. Remember, there is nothing inherently wrong with trade shows. It’s what people say and do at trade shows that can lead to antitrust problems.

Q: Do I have to make a report if a competitor proposes something about pricing or customers?

A: It’s a good idea to let your legal or compliance team know what happened. Investigations can take place months or years later. Letting legal or compliance know about the competitor’s comments lets them make a note that they can quickly refer to if authorities ever look into what happened.

Q: Do I have to end all contact with a competitor if he proposes something that I think might violate antitrust laws?

A: You definitely want to end the conversation in which the proposal took place. Don’t be subtle. You don’t want there to be any ambiguity about whether you agreed to the proposal or not. As to future conversations, there is probably no harm in exchanging pleasantries. But remember that the competitor proposed violating laws and engaging in conduct that could get you fired or sent to prison. You should steer clear of anything of him or her.

Q: What do I do if I think our competitors entered into an illegal agreement between themselves?

A: You need to let the legal or compliance team know. They will know what to do next. This is not an area that you want to try to handle on your own.

Q: How can something violate competition laws if it doesn’t let us or another company “corner the market?” Do I really have to worry about every little thing?

Competition laws set certain minimum standards for how companies can compete. You violate them when you break those rules – regardless of whether it gives you a huge advantage or not. In fact, the agreement doesn’t even have to be successful to create liability because the law prohibits the anti-competitive agreement itself. Plus, things like price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation are almost never “little deals.” Finally, remember that you can be disciplined or even terminated for violating the company policy on antitrust – whether you think it’s a “big deal” or not.

Sign up for a free trial of our Antitrust and Competition Law course.

Alicia Busse

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