Surgical Care Affiliates, USPI sued again, accused of collusion to limit employee wages, mobility

A former employee of DaVita sued the company, UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Surgical Care Affiliates and Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare subsidiary United Surgical Partners International, alleging they colluded to suppress wages and inhibit mobility of senior-level directors.

The lawsuit was filed July 16 in the Illinois Northern District Court by Alberto Peña, a former regional operations director for DaVita. The lawsuit accuses the companies of violating the Sherman Act by participating in no-poach agreements.

The lawsuit claims that DaVita, a dialysis provider, and Surgical Care Affiliates agreed not to solicit each other's senior-level employees from 2012 to 2017. The lawsuit also claims there were other similar agreements set up between Surgical Care affiliates and United Surgical Partners International from 2017 to 2019. 

The lawsuit claims these agreements were "strictly a tool to suppress their senior-level employees' mobility and compensation, hence their own expenses." 

Mr. Peña is seeking damages, an injunction to prevent other similar arrangements and class-action status for the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit comes just one week after a federal grand jury in Denver indicted DaVita and Kent Thiry, its former CEO, on two counts of conspiring to suppress competition for senior level employees. 

Surgical Care Affiliates and United Surgical Partners International also face similar allegations in a separate lawsuit filed by a former director at Surgical Care Affiliates. 

United Surgical Partners International declined to comment on the pending litigation. Becker's has also reached out to DaVita and Surgical Care Affiliates and will update this article when more information is available.

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