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Naval Architects & Marine Engineers File Wage-Suppression Suit Against Nation’s Largest Military Shipbuilders

October 12, 2023


Naval Architects & Marine Engineers File Wage-Suppression Suit Against Nation’s Largest Military Shipbuilders

Defendants allegedly engaged in “no poach” conspiracy in highly skilled, niche industry for decades. Recruiting agency facilitated information exchange and aided the conspiracy.

Washington, DC – A trio of premier plaintiffs’ class action law firms filed an antitrust class action on behalf of naval architects and marine engineers employed by the nation’s largest military shipbuilders and naval engineering consultancy firms, including General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, and Gibbs & Cox, against those defendants and Faststream Recruitment, a recruiting firm that served the companies and aided in their anticompetitive behavior.

Plaintiffs, who are highly skilled and specialized professionals responsible for the architectural and engineering design of all manner of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels and onboard ship systems, allege that starting in at least 2000, the shipbuilders and consultancy firms adhered to an informal “gentlemen’s agreement” among themselves not to recruit each other’s naval engineers. As a result, the companies effectively suppressed the compensation of naval architects and marine engineers in violation of antitrust law.

“We’re proud to represent the men and women who work to design and build the strongest naval fleet in the world in their fight for fair compensation,” said Robert W. Cobbs, a partner at Cohen Milstein. “For decades, defense contractors have profited from their labor while allegedly suppressing their wages below competitive levels.”

“It’s frustrating to see industry leaders deprive their highly skilled and specialized workers of their due compensation,” said Shana E. Scarlett, a partner at Hagens Berman. “Defendants’ alleged no-poach arrangement not only suppressed wages but caused a persistent shortage of qualified naval engineers in the marketplace.”

“This is a compelling class action. Defendants’ no-poach agreement is a classic per se unlawful restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act,” said George Farah, a partner at Handley Farah & Anderson. “These highly skilled naval engineers are due hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.”

Impacted Individuals: Naval engineers consist of naval architects and marine engineers, who design and build the nation’s warships and other “public fleet” vessels. While some naval engineers work directly for the federal government, most are employed by a group of private contractors and consulting firms who are hired by the Navy, the Coast Guard, and other federal and state entities.

Numbering fewer than 10,000 naval engineers nationwide, they frequently work together on the same projects, and are geographically concentrated—primarily in the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia metro area and the Norfolk/Newport News area.

Join the Case: Impacted individuals can learn more about the class action and whether they qualify to join it by contacting Robert W. Cobbs at Cohen Milstein at: (202) 408-4600, Shana E. Scarlett at Hagens Berman at (510) 725-3000 or George Farah at Handley Farah & Anderson at 212-477-8090.

The name of the case is Scharpf, et al. v. General Dynamics Corp., et al., Case No. 1:23-cv-013272, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

About Cohen Milstein

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is a premier class action law firm, handling high-profile and often precedent-setting cases on behalf of plaintiffs. We have more than 100 attorneys practicing out of eight offices across the United States. In 2022, Cohen Milstein was named Law360’s “Competition Practice Group of the Year.” For additional information, please visit or call (202) 408-4600.

About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP

Hagens Berman is an international class-action and complex plaintiffs’ litigation law firm taking on the world’s largest corporations and entities and fighting for the rights of plaintiffs, including consumers, whistleblowers, employees, investors and others. For additional information, please visit or call (510) 725-3000.

About Handley Farah & Anderson

We sue giant corporations and other powerful interests that harm people. We pursue cases—both class actions and individual claims—to halt unjust practices, hold wrongdoers accountable and recover financial damages for victims. We fight for those who need our help: workers, consumers, tenants, persons with disabilities, families, farmers, small businesses, investors, whistleblowers, women and communities of color. For additional information, please visit or call 212-477-8090.