The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating allegations that major U.S. poultry companies conspired to hold down their workers’ wages, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The Justice Department probe is being done with an eye toward a civil lawsuit, sources told the Journal. Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the targets, has confirmed in a filing with federal regulators that it was notified by Justice about a civil antitrust investigation into human-resources issues. Perdue Farms acknowledged to the Journal that it has received similar notification.
Poultry industry wages are already the subject of lawsuits brought privately by workers. One of them charges that senior executives from the major poultry companies discussed wage scales at a meeting in a hotel in Florida.
The poultry industry has been subjected to numerous probes and lawsuits relating to anticompetitive behavior, including a criminal trial now under way in Colorado.