Lawsuit Filed Against Apple and Other Tech Companies Over Anti-Poaching Agreements

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Law firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein today announced the filing of a class-action lawsuit against Apple and other tech companies over "no solicitation" agreements that prevented the companies from attempting to hire away each others' employees. The lawsuit, filed by former Lucasfilm engineer Siddharth Hariharan, contends that the anti-poaching agreements limited career opportunities for and instituted artificial salary caps on employees at the companies involved.

"My colleagues at Lucasfilm and I applied our skills, knowledge, and creativity to make the company an industry leader," stated Mr. Hariharan. "It's disappointing that, while we were working hard to make terrific products that resulted in enormous profits for Lucasfilm, senior executives of the company cut deals with other premiere high tech companies to eliminate competition and cap pay for skilled employees."

"Competition in the labor market results in better salaries, enhanced career opportunities for employees, and better products for consumers," stated [attorney Joseph] Saveri. "We estimate that because of reduced competition for their services, compensation for skilled employees at Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar was reduced by 10 to 15 percent. These companies owe their tremendous successes to the sacrifices and hard work of their employees, and must take responsibility for their misconduct."

The lawsuit alleges that the "no solicitation" agreements first surfaced in 2005 between Lucasfilm and Pixar, with Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, and Intuit all joining the coalition that remained in place until at least 2009. The complaint seeks restitution for lost compensation and treble damages as punishment for the anti-competitive actions.

Specific claims of Apple's involvement in such anti-poaching agreements surfaced in August 2009 when a deal with Google was revealed. The U.S. Department of Justice finalized a settlement in September 2010 that barred Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar from participating in such arrangements.

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Top Rated Comments

ktappe Avatar
173 months ago
Good

This certainly sounds as if it has merit. It's a blatant circumvention of the "free market" that many politicians, voters, and businessmen openly and frequently support. Now let's see how many of them actually believe in the "free market" by supporting this suit. Or will they oppose this suit and expose themselves as actually being "pro business" and anti worker. It's funny how many forget that "free market" should apply to all portions of the economy, including the workers.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ciTiger Avatar
173 months ago
I find this outrageous... If you value an employee than make it worth for him to stay in your company... These companies make BILLIONS in revenue... Pay the people who make your revenues what they deserve!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
milo Avatar
173 months ago
Just because they agree not to poach (they won't headhunt a specific person), they can advertise freely what ever salary for a position, who ever wants can apply, and resign from their current job.

The details aren't clear, but if they ignore job applications from anyone currently working in one of the other companies in the agreement, that would be a major disadvantage for those employees.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CalBoy Avatar
173 months ago
Is there something in this, or is it just a case of a resentful ex-employee?

Just because they agree not to poach (they won't headhunt a specific person), they can advertise freely what ever salary for a position, who ever wants can apply, and resign from their current job.

Agreeing not to go after each other's top talent is a crime known as collusion, and more broadly it is the beginning stages of a trust. The competitive element of the market is completely destroyed if demand is being artificially suppressed.

There def is some merit to this argument but there could be a no compete claus. If that's the case then this lawsuit seems very valid. Probably wont amount to much however

Non-compete clauses are very tightly restricted in California. They only allow for trade secret protection and sensitive document protection. Thus, a former Pixar employee could not reveal to Lucasfilms what their next big project is, but he would be perfectly free to leave Pixar for Lucasfilms.

The DOJ already ruled this and the parties involved settled... At least these companies have that for their defense.
I agree that such agreement or practice goes against employees but how you can prove that you got affected and lost money or better employment???

well.. time will tell..:(

The Federal government settled a criminal prosecution. This is a civil lawsuit on the part of the injured employees.

I haven't taken a look at the full lawsuit yet, but I suspect that the plaintiffs are trying to make use of the Sherman Anti-Trust which allows for triple damages by default.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mrzeigler Avatar
173 months ago
Knee-jerk anti-labor response.
It takes 2 sides to create a job offer, and if companies can't let workers know a job exists, then the worker is cut off at the knees.
Reminds me of the argument that unions aren't necessary because I have sufficient bargaining power as an individual against a billion dollar corporation.
Absurd.
Very good point.

As for the posters getting worked up about the dollars at stake here, the amount of money is not the issue here. Seriously. The issue is opportunity.

It's one thing to accept a job and sign a contract with a no-compete clause. In that case, the employee is going into the situation fully aware, and usually the salary reflects that exclusivity.

It's another situation entirely if you get a job with Company A and afterward discover that your employment with Company A puts you on a blacklist for companies B, C, D, E and F — at least some of which you'd prefer to work for — for reasons that have nothing to do with your competency.

These companies could fix this situation simply by negotiating with current employees to add no-compete clauses that detail specific companies or types of companies. In return for the stability that the employers desire, the companies should have to include extra pay or perks for the workers to give up their right to seek employment elsewhere within a certain period of time. They could then make such clauses standard for new hires.


Edit: This is said with the presumption that this situation isn't limited to just wine-and-dine, come-work-for-us recruiting but also extends to exclude prospective job candidates who currently work for specific companies but are seeking new employment.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smithrh Avatar
173 months ago
As someone from one of the purported companies that agreed to this, you can rest assured I am very much unhappy with this arrangement and it needs to be quashed - permanently.

Let's say I want to work for Apple - well, maybe they won't contact me, or they'll send my CV that I send to them to the shredder without reading it through. All because of where I work now.

Bluntly speaking - that's crap.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)