A judge has granted preliminary approval for UNC to settle a lawsuit over allegations that a no-hire agreement between the university and Duke violated antitrust laws.
The lawsuit was filed in 2015 on behalf of Danielle Seaman, who was an assistant professor of radiology at Duke, who says she was passed over for a similar job at UNC because of an agreement between medical schools at the two institutions not to hire each other’s employees for positions of the same rank.
The law firm representing Seaman announced the partial settlement news this morning. Duke has not settled in the case. Duke has denied the allegations and The Herald-Sun reports that Nancy Andrews, the former dean of Duke’s medical school, and other faculty have filed statements in the same vein.
In the lawsuit, Seaman says she had been trying to get a job at Carolina for three years and was told in 2015 that she was a strong candidate but couldn’t be hired because “lateral moves of faculty between Duke and UNC are not permitted.”
In an email included in the lawsuit, UNC’s chief of cardiothoracic imaging says this arrangement had been in place for a few years and suggested it was intended to suppress salaries.
“The ‘guideline’ was generated in response to an attempted recruitment by Duke a couple of years ago of the entire UNC bone marrow transplant team; UNC had to generate a large retention package to keep the team intact,” the email reads.
“Because Duke/DUHS and UNC/UNC Health are the two largest academic medical systems in the state, their no-hire agreement has reduced competition for medical facility faculty and certain staff, thereby suppressing faculty and staff pay,” the lawsuit says.
Duke and UNC sought to dismiss the lawsuit last year but were unsuccessful.
As part of the settlement, UNC may not engage in unlawful no-hire agreements and must turn over documents to Seaman as her case against Duke continues.