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Judge Denies Dismissal of No-Poach Conspiracy Case 224

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-for-the-long-haul dept.
theodp writes "Testifying before Congress in 2007, Google's HR chief stated: 'We make great efforts to uncover the most talented employees we can find.' But according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Google actually went to some lengths to avoid uncovering some of tech's most talented employees, striking up agreements with Apple, Intel, and other corporations to avoid recruiting each other's employees. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh ruled that Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Disney, Pixar, Intuit and Lucasfilm must face a lawsuit claiming they violated antitrust laws by entering into no-poaching agreements with each other. 'I don't want to see any obstruction on discovery,' Koh told lawyers during a hearing. According to the head attorney representing the plaintiffs, the total damages could exceed $150 million if just 10,000 entry-level engineers were affected."
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Judge Denies Dismissal of No-Poach Conspiracy Case

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  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Friday January 27, 2012 @09:44AM (#38839177)
    It's great that they're getting hit for this, but who exactly is going to get that money?
    Somehow, I doubt those effected will see a dime, and lawyers and government stooges are going to get it.
    Justice for all my damn foot, why don't more people attack that part of the pledge?
    • by jimbo3123 (320148) on Friday January 27, 2012 @09:50AM (#38839233) Homepage

      Even if current employees don't see a dime of the damages, the ruling should affect all current and future employees who should now be better assured that they will get a competitive salary. If employers fail to compensate their employees fairly, there is now the ability to switch employers freely, like the law requires.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's the nature of punishment. If you throw someone in jail for ten years, they're out ten years of productive, happy life, but that cost doesn't get redistributed to the victims of their crime. If you have system where inmates are put to work, then the county's getting to pocket some free labour, but that's about it.

    • I'm not sure anyone who was affected is going to see the money. I believe it's more of a fine/punishment.

      On the other hand, Apple made about $150M net free cash every day last quarter.

  • Unions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Azuaron (1480137)
    How is this any different from a union? And if it's okay for unions to do it, why isn't it okay for companies?
    • Re:Unions (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Friday January 27, 2012 @10:15AM (#38839533)

      It's not actually legal for unions to do it; the "closed shop", where new hires can only come from the labor union's membership pool, is illegal in the U.S. since 1947.

      • by mjr167 (2477430)
        Depends on the state you live in.
        • No, what varies from state to state is whether you can require new hires to join the union. There's a difference between, "We can't hire you, you're not a union member" and "You're hired, you have to join the union now."

    • by chrb (1083577)
      Because you can choose to switch union and the unions don't conspire to stop that happening. You can even be a member of more than one union, and they don't conspire to stop that, either.
    • Re:Unions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday January 27, 2012 @11:03AM (#38840109)

      How is this any different from a union? And if it's okay for unions to do it, why isn't it okay for companies?

      Same reply as the last time this nonsense was posted. If it is Ok for a three year old kid to hit and kick an adult man as hard as possible, shouldn't it be Ok for an adult man to hit and kick a three year old kid as hard as possible?

    • Because you can always decide to leave a union and then take a non union job.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      How is it in any way the same? In a union, the employees of a single employer bargain with the employer collectively. Management of that single employer are a collective as well; they have negotiators, lawyers, all sorts of backup. A union evens the odds against the single employer's managers bargaining collectively against a single worker.

      There's no comparison at all.

  • When they do poach they get slapped with lawsuits from the company they recruited from saying the person they got can't work anywhere near a computer for a number of years. So poaching really makes no sense because of the counter lawsuits.
    Are they going to deny that people have "critical information" and shut down the lawsuits that follow from poaching ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      California Business and Professions Code Section 16600 nullifies any contract that restrains anyone from engaging in a lawful business, profession, or trade. In other words, non-competes and non-solicits are not legal in California. CA courts have also rejected the "eventual disclosure" theory that would prevent someone from taking a job because they know trade secrets.

      Sec 16600 is, in part, why Silicon Valley is in CA and not NY or MA.

    • These "anti-compete" rules have no teeth except in a few isolated cases. My company has hired people from competitors and vice versa. Execs sometimes get all red in the face and talk about taking it to court (the same execs that poached from their competitors). The company lawyers get involved and break the bad news that there is no case. I've seen it happen enough times that it is comical.

      There appear to be two exceptions: The trade secrets "rule" (have never seen this one applied) and the book of business

  • Do No Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday January 27, 2012 @10:01AM (#38839363) Journal

    Yup. People sucked down this motto and believed it. The fast is that the nature of business is often contrary to the general public interest. This is why we citizens band together in the form of governments to counterbalance some of the negative side of business. No, this isn't a diatribe against capitalism. It is simple a recognition that capitalism has its weaknesses that must be addressed and reckoned with.

    Put two saints in charge of a business and you will find that they begin behaving in ways that the wouldn't if they weren't in a powerful position. it doesn't make them evil. It is simply a response to the environment and the forces around them. Our gov't should place restraints in place to minimize anti-society behavior.

    When Google puts in the "no poaching" agreement, it is acting in its own best interest, but not in the best interest of society as a whole. Citizens should be free to work in the best environment for them. This isn't a profit driven value. It is a freedom based value. Google is acting against that and should be slapped in the language that corporations understand -- the bottom line. The slap must be hard enough to change behavior, or else it will be deemed a cost of doing business.

    And if you still think that we just need the right people in charge of companies, people with the right ethics and then everything will be perfect, you are absolutely deluded. Granted, we DO need strong ethics in those who hold power. But be damned sure that even those people will act against the interest of the rest of us.

    • by oGMo (379)

      Citizens should be free to work in the best environment for them.

      So what's stopping someone from applying for another job? This is all about poaching: that is, the thing Microsoft did back in the day to kill Borland by making ridiculous offers to a direct competitor's employees to effectively hobble the company. How is that not evil?

      If Google was sorting through their data to determine who the top Apple/Pixar/etc developers were and making them offers they couldn't refuse in an effort to stymie competiti

      • You know what. I did misunderstand the summary. Thanks for pointing out my error.

      • Re:Uh what? (Score:4, Informative)

        by zzsmirkzz (974536) on Friday January 27, 2012 @10:41AM (#38839855)

        There is nothing stopping anyone from applying for a job on their own time, and none of this is about not hiring the competition.

        Actually, from what I heard, this is also part of the agreement. Not to hire competitors employees, that apply for a job, on their own, with the company. Then, on top of that, to report to the competitor, after refusing the employee, that they attempted to apply for a job with them.

        Just like laws, Contracts can have misleading titles too.

    • They now have just one target to buy off. Get their own legislation put in place. etc.
       

    • The motto is not "Do no evil," it is "Don't BE evil." That is important because a person can do a little evil now and then but still not really BE evil so long as he feels appropriately guilty afterwords (and tries to make up for it or not to continue doing it).

      Not that this matters, of course. "Evil" is an ambiguous word, especially in an economic environment where everyone *must* compete over scarce resources.

  • Some knowledgeable sources close to the discovery process say that there is a secret clause buried in these contracts. Apparently all these companies agreed not to rouse 2000 employees in the middle of the night and herd them back to work for a cup of tea and some biscuits. But Apple found a loop hole, that this clause applies only to USA and not China. That kind of gotcha tactic upset the other players who were overheard saying, "tut, tut, it is not cricket, it is not done" in the Olde Duquesne Country Clu
  • When I was working a government job and was trying to go back to the private sector, I had several recruiters tell me that they couldn't hire me since the had government contracts.

    In the private sector, I had seen the same as well. A company I was working for as a contractor wanted to hire me as their own employee, but their contract had a poaching clause that levied a substantial (5 figure) fee if they did so. They did do it for one of my coworkers, but he ended up leaving in less than a year so they wer
    • by forkfail (228161)

      This is a bit different.

      When you go with a contracting agency, it allows the company to put you to work on a trial basis without incurring costs like insurance, nor having any contractual (or emotional) bonds if they don't feel you're working out. If they do hire you, they are paying the recruitment costs to the contractor.

      And as the above poster noted, with the government scenario, that's to prevent corruption with government contracts.

      What's happening here is monopolistic collusion in an effort to keep w

  • "According to the head attorney representing the plaintiffs, the total damages could exceed $150 million if just 10,000 entry-level engineers were affected."

    How do you poach entry-level engineers?

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      entry levels write actually a lot of the code that ends up running.

      the point is though, that those entry level engineers stuck in entry level positions couldn't use their cv to apply for more senior position in another company(because the other company wouldn't hire them because they were working for company xxx). and for the companies it's beneficial to keep the talent base at entry level positions regardless of what they're used to engineer.

  • ... does not contain too few non-single negatives, no?

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