Class-Action Suit Claims Silicon Valley No-Poaching Agreements Hurt Hiring

Kachina Shaw
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Tech Employment Picture Bright for Start of 2014

An article published at The New York Times over the weekend and republished at CNBC and elsewhere gives an overview of a class-action lawsuit that seeks billions of dollars in damages for San Jose area engineers. The suit claims long-term illegal no-poaching agreements among the highest-ranking executives in Silicon Valley interfered with hiring and salaries for years.

The fear of key players and key ideas walking out the door – and into the arms of a competitor – created an environment where talented engineers became the “victims of a conspiracy.” And Steve Jobs is still around, in the sense that his rigorous defense of no-poaching deals with other tech corporations meant the practice spread widely, the suit claims.

The suit cites activity between 2005 and 2009. Executives from Apple, Google, Intel and others are said to have tried to keep the footprints of their various do-not-hire agreements as small as possible, but emails make reference to both the agreements in general and to specific instances in which employees were approached by recruiters, for example, who were then blocked. Part of this information comes from a Department of Justice investigation that led to a 2010 antitrust complaint against Google, Apple and others, and then a number of settlements.

The Times notes that the Justice Department is not done with its no-poaching inquiries, either. It is “currently pursuing a case” against eBay, which reports that it is “in settlement talks with the government.”



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