Apple, Google and Others Set to Face Trial Over Anti-Poaching Agreements

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled yesterday that Apple, Google and several other large tech companies will face a trial over "no solicitation" agreements that prevented the companies from attempting to hire away each others' employees, reports Bloomberg.

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The suit represents software and hardware engineers, programmers, animators, digital artists, Web developers and other technical professionals, according to the ruling. Kelly Dermody, a lawyer representing them, said in an e-mail that there are as many as 64,626 potential class members.

“The court finds that, based on the extensive documentary evidence, economic theory, data, and expert statistical modeling, plaintiffs’ methodology demonstrates that common issues are likely to predominate over individual issues,” Koh wrote in her ruling.

According to the original lawsuit filed in 2011, the "no solicitation" agreements dated back to 2005 and were between Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. The agreements reportedly prevented recruiters from contacting employees at other companies who were party to the agreement, though employees were free to apply for jobs at other establishments.

The anti-poaching agreements were investigated in 2010 by the Justice Department. The claims were eventually settled, with the companies agreeing not to form no-solicitation agreements for five years.

The current lawsuit is a class-action civil suit representing over 64,000 technical employees who said they were harmed by the anti-competitive actions of the defendant companies. According to SFGate, Judge Koh has scheduled the trial for next May, but it is also possible that it could be delayed by possible appeals from the defendant companies.

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Top Rated Comments

pirateyarrr Avatar
140 months ago
wow - BAD JUDGES

We'll see what your opinion is if you ever get a job that you wish to transition out of, and suddenly find that no other company in your field will give you an interview.

Try not to be so simplistic in your idiotic analyses.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pirateyarrr Avatar
140 months ago
Baseless accusations as far as Apple is concerned. Not so sure about the others though.

And you know this because..... oh right, because in your mind, Apple can do no wrong.

Please grow up and start living in the real world. It's a corporation, like any other. They will screw over their employees to further their own interests just as fast as any other corporation. Which is to say, instantly.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
springsup Avatar
140 months ago
Good. Enabling more competition for valuable technical staff will require these companies to raise wages and provide other benefits to their employees.

The market has to work both ways: employees are under competitive pressure to adjust their demands, and employers should be under just as much pressure to adjust theirs.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wikiverse Avatar
140 months ago
What law prevents this?

California's Antitrust Laws.

http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/antitrust/antitrust.pdf (http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/antitrust/antitrust.pdf)

See the Section "Other agreements among competitors" and "As a businessperson or an employee of a
business "
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DisMyMac Avatar
140 months ago
Remember this when someone says "Just quit, if you don't like your job!"
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
140 months ago
Some posters are naively claiming that an employee can look for work on their own. In real life, that isn't true.

1) The Valley especially is a small place, and if someone good puts out feelers to other companies, it'll leak out.

2) It puts the employee at a disadvantage, because it's risky and he could lose his current job. With poaching, he'll already know he has another job waiting.

--

Poaching itself has long been a tradition in this field. Steve Jobs himself poached from Xerox Parc and Palm and all sorts of places. For that matter, when he was kicked out of Apple, he poached a lot of top Apple employees and Apple sued him for doing so.

Just look at the recent headlines. Apple has poached top employees from Samsung, United Airlines and Burberry. These are top CFOs, engineers, etc, who would not have approached Apple on their own.

--

However, Jobs hated it when others poached his employees. In this particular case that Judge Koh presides over, he supposedly went so far as to threaten Palm Inc with patent lawsuits (https://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1530360) if they did not agree to join in.

To which the Palm CEO emailed back to Jobs:

"Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal.[...]

Palm doesn't target other companies-we look for the best people we can find. l'd hope the same could be said about Apple's practices.

However, during the last year or so, as Apple geared up to compete with Palm in the phone space, Apple hired at least 2% of Palm's workforce. To put it in perspective, had Palm done the same, we'd have hired 300 folks from Apple. Instead, to my knowledge, we've hired just three."

- Ed Colligan Palm CEO
Notice that he thought Jobs' proposal was that "neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires". If true, that notches things up a level.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)