Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that a Texas company providing therapist staffing services to home health agencies, its owner, and the former owner of a competitor agreed to reduce pay rates for therapists and invited other competitors to collude on the rates.
According to the complaint, which was first announced in July 2018, the two owners agreed to lower their therapist pay rates to the same level, and invited several of their competitors to lower their rates in an attempt to keep therapists from switching to staffing companies that paid more. The complaint alleged that they entered into the agreement after learning that a home health agency planned to pay significantly lower rates to the therapist staffing companies for therapist services.
Under the order, the parties are prohibited from colluding with competitors on compensation paid to their employees or independent contractors. They also are barred from entering into or organizing agreements with any person to lower, fix, maintain, or stabilize the compensation that they or the other person pays, or is willing to pay, in competing with each other for therapists or other types of employees and independent contractors. And they are barred from inviting competitors to enter such agreements and from exchanging information with competitors related to compensation of employees and independent contractors.
The Commission vote approving the final order was 3-1-1. The Commission issued a statement. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued a separate statement. Commissioner Rohit Chopra voted no and issued a dissenting statement. Commissioner Wilson did not participate. (The staff contact is Robert Canterman, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2701.)
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