Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced a lawsuit against a contingent workforce buyer organization and several of its staffing providers over allegations that they interfered with temporary workers’ ability to seek better employment opportunities with other staffing agencies.

The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court against Vee Pak LLC, doing business as Voyant Beauty, and six staffing providers from which Vee Pak procured temporary labor services: Alternative Staffing Inc., American Quest Staffing Solutions Inc., Creative Staffing Solutions Inc., Midway Staffing Inc., Staffing Network LLC and SureStaff Inc.

According to the complaint, the staffing firms would monitor for temporary Vee Pak employees switching from one participating staffing agency to another. If one staffing agency noticed a worker switching to any of the other participating staffing agencies, the temporary worker would either be returned to their original staffing firm or be fired altogether. Vee Pak allegedly helped to enforce the agreement by notifying the staffing provider to which the temporary worker tried to move and ensuring the agreement was enforced.

“No-poach agreements allow employers to take advantage of workers by trapping them in low-paying jobs and limiting their ability to seek better employment opportunities,” Raoul said. “I am committed to holding companies accountable when they engage in unlawful employment practices that prevent employees from seeking opportunities that allow them to better support themselves and provide for their families.”

The conspiracy benefitted Vee Pak and the staffing agencies at the expense of the temporary employees, as the no-poach agreement eliminated the need for the staffing agencies to compete for workers by offering better wages, benefits and conditions of employment.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to immediately stop the illegal no-poach agreement, as well as civil penalties and damages.

In July 2020, Raoul filed a similar lawsuit alleging three staffing agencies — including Midway Staffing, which is implicated in the Vee Pak case — and their client conspired to eliminate competition and harm temporary workers in Illinois by interfering with their ability to seek better employment opportunities and better wages and benefits. While the case is congoing, an Illinois appellate court ruled in June 2021 that the temporary staffing industry can’t use a loophole to avoid state antitrust protections.