Class action alleges aerospace firms tried to prevent employee “poaching”
Pratt & Whitney, along with several aerospace engineering firms, conspired to prevent employee “poaching,” a class action lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of David Granata, of Cranston, Rhode Island, and “others similarly situated,” says the aerospace companies entered into unlawful agreements “to restrain competition in the labor markets in which they compete for employees—principally engineers and other skilled employees in the aerospace industry.”
“Unlawful no-poach agreements—where employers agree not to solicit, hire, or otherwise compete for employees—hurt employees by suppressing their compensation, benefits, and ability to improve their employment opportunities by moving to another job,” said attorney David Slossberg. “In this case, thousands of employees were adversely impacted by Defendants’ conduct.”
According to Labaton Sucharow attorney Gregory Asciolla, “the alleged unlawful conduct is particularly pernicious as it centered on highly-skilled employees in the aerospace/defense industry, which plays a vital role in the United States’ national security and in Connecticut’s economic well-being.”
The lawsuit was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, New Haven, with a demand for a jury trial.
In addition to Pratt & Whitney, the lawsuit also accuses QuEST Global Services-NA, Inc., East Hartford, Belcan Engineering Group, LLC, Belcan Engineering Group Limited Partnership, both of East Hartford, Cyient Inc., the East Hartford subsidiary of a company based in Hyderabad, India, Parametric Solutions Inc., Jupiter, Florida, Agilis Engineering, Inc., Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Mahish Patel of Glastonbury, Robert Harvey of Farmington, Harpreet Wasan of South Glastonbury, Thomas Edwards of New Fairfield, Conn., Gary Prus of Jupiter, Florida, Frank O’Neill of Jupiter, Florida and three “John Does.”
Plaintiff Granata worked for QuEST Global Services-NA from 2013 to March 2018, primarily on projects for P&W.
“As a result of Defendants’ no-poach agreement, Mr. Granata earned less than he would have absent the alleged agreement,” the lawsuit says. “Further, because of Defendants’ unlawful agreement, he was also denied access to better, higher-paying job opportunities and his ability to change employment was restricted.”
Anti-poaching agreements among competitors have always been unlawful under federal antitrust laws. Such illegal agreements, or agreements to fix wages, stamp out competition just like agreements to fix product prices. Indeed, the Defendants’ action in this case was “an ideal tool to suppress their employees’ compensation that was simple to implement and easy to enforce,” the lawsuit says.
The detailed nature of the conspiracy became public on December 9, 2021, when the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a criminal complaint against Patel, a former manager for P&W, alleging his “participating in a long-running conspiracy with managers and executives of several outsource engineering suppliers to restrict the hiring and recruiting of engineers and other skilled laborers among their respective companies.” The Justice Department alleged that Patel “enforced this agreement while serving as an intermediary between conspiring suppliers.”