Operators may find themselves under increased scrutiny as the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Labor team up to target anticompetitive, unfair and deceptive practices in the workplace.

A memorandum of understanding between the two agencies, announced Thursday but signed Aug. 30, aims to crack down on issues such as labor market concentration, one-sided contract terms and labor developments in the “gig economy.”

“Deepening our partnership with DOL will ensure that we can work collectively to tackle illegal conduct that suppresses wages, reduces access to good benefits and working conditions, and stifles economic liberty for workers across the economy,” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a statement

The new agreement enables the FTC and DOL to closely collaborate by sharing information, conducting cross-training for staff at each agency, and partnering on investigative efforts within each agency’s authority, the two agencies said. Further, they said that the memorandum of understanding is in line with President Biden’s executive order on competition, “which affirms the importance of enforcing antitrust laws to combat abuses of market power, including in labor markets.”

Areas of mutual interest, according to the two agencies:

  • collusive behavior;
  • the use of business models designed to evade legal accountability, such as the misclassification of employees;
  • illegal claims and disclosures about earnings and costs associated with work;
  • the imposition of one-sided and restrictive contract provisions, such as noncompete and training repayment agreement provisions; 
  • the extent and effect of labor market concentration; and 
  • the effect of algorithmic decision-making on workers.

The signing of the agreement between the Labor Department and the FTC follows the announcement of a similar agreement between the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this month, which formalized and increased coordination between the agencies through information-sharing, joint investigations, training and outreach.