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Seagate sued for 'fraudulently hiring engineer'

Improper inducement alleged

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Seagate is being sued for $2.7m by a laid-off engineer for allegedly inducing him to take a job that didn't exist.

As reported in the St Paul's Pioneer Press, Chandramouli Vaidyanathan was hired by Seagate in February 2008 to move from a senior yield engineering job at Texas Instruments to join Seagate's Advanced Technology Group (ATG) in Bloomington, MN, as a principal yield engineer.

But the company did not need him to do that work, aimed at increasing the yield of usable chips from a semiconductor process, and effectively demoted him, before laying him off in November 2009.

It appears that the semiconductor project that would have needed a yield engineer was three years from actually needing one, so the company put Vaidyanathan, a PhD, on other work for which he was overqualified. The recession meant that he could not get alternative work when he was laid off by Seagate, and feels the company misled him and ruined his career.

A Minnesota law says employers are liable if they fraudulently induce people to move to a Minnesota company for non-existent jobs. Vaidyanathan claims Seagate hired him for yield engineering work, which Seagate denies.

There is a report of an internal Seagate document mentioning that Vaidyanathan "was hired to lead a yield/product engineering/team" and "this charter never came to fruition".

The ATG was founded by Seagate in 2006 in connection with a new semiconductor venture. Its work is somewhat mysterious but people from that group, such as researcher Yiran Chen, have been working in the area of Spin Transfer Torque RAM (pdf), an advanced non-volatile memory technology. The purpose of the work is "to design a high-density, low-power, high-performance nonvolatile memory". ®

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