Apple, Google and Intel to face angry ex-IT workers in court
Class action suit over no-poaching rules goes ahead
A US judge has ruled that Apple, Google, Intel and other firms have to face their former employees in court in an antitrust lawsuit that alleges the firms conspired to keep wages down by stifling competition.
The three companies – along with Adobe, Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm – are accused in the class action suit of working together to eliminate competition for IT workers, thereby keeping their wages and mobility down, by agreeing not to poach each other's staff...
The court filing said:
According to Plaintiffs, the conspiracy consisted of an interconnected web of express bilateral agreements, each with the active involvement and participation of a company under the control of the late Steven P. Jobs (“Mr Jobs”) and/or a company whose board shared at least one member of Apple’s board of directors.
The firms have already faced the same charges from the Department of Justice, which sued and then settled with Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit and Pixar over the alleged "no-poaching" agreements that stopped the firms stealing each other's best workers.
Under the terms of the the settlement, the DOJ told the firms they were strictly forbidden from entering into "anticompetitive employee solicitation agreements".
The class action suit has been brought by software engineers who all formerly worked at the firms, including two from Adobe and one each from Intel, Lucasfilm and Intuit.
The tech firms tried to get the case dismissed on the grounds that it failed to substantiate its antitrust claims:
The [complaint] fails to allege evidentiary facts to support the claim of an “overarching conspiracy” among all Defendants to suppress their employees’ wages; such a conspiracy is implausible on its face; and the [complaint] fails to plead antitrust injury.
Apple and co's main argument was that six different bilateral agreements to not cold-call each other's employees did not add up to an overarching conspiracy – in other words, because all seven companies didn't all have an agreement with each other, there was no collusion.
However, the court was "not persuaded" by their arguments:
The fact that all six identical bilateral agreements were reached in secrecy among seven Defendants in a span of two years suggests that these agreements resulted from collusion, and not from coincidence.
The case is likely to go to trial sometime next year. ®
Re: "Sued my ex-company"
What good is a CV if the companies you apply for all have agreements in place with your employer not to hire any applicants?
Someone has to stand up for their rights and fair play to those that are taking these companies to task over their misconduct.
a problem how exactly?
Well, it is different to the normal practice of calling up suitable candidates thus influencing the market. The firm could not approach the candidate who might be the best/preferred/know luminary becuase of the existence ofd said agreement.
Perhaps rather than getting accused of 'poaching' the HR people rejected CVs of people from competitors (who they have signed the agreements with) - just to be seen to be toeing the line. Perhaps these CVs came from some headhunter, friend of friend who knows? but the existence of an agreement changes everything.
Consider if you sell widgets and you agree with your competitors that you won't approach each others customers unless the potential customer comes to you. That would be big anti-trust clink time... that is totally anti competitive.
Competitors (in this case the IT firms) should never be agreeing anything about anything that they are in competition for - whether its customers, staff, or suppliers. That is just a big no-no.
I had one ex-employer ask for a non-complete that went something like "not work for our competitors, suppliers or customers". I pointed out that would mean I couldn't work at any company I had ever worked for, including the one I was leaving to join them from.
They took it out. If they didn't, they'd have been told in uncertain terms what I think. Come to think of it they had a bit in there about getting fired if I got arrested, regardless of guilt etc. They took that out too. I guess they had a new HR person...