The U.S. Justice Department and the state of California have filed suit against eBay, saying former CEO Meg Whitman colluded with Intuit founder Scott Cook in an agreement not to poach each other’s employees.
Intuit was not targeted because it was part of a 2010 antitrust settlement with the Justice Department that included similar claims against Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel and Pixar.
The federal lawsuit claims that between 2006 and 2009 or later, recruiters for eBay were instructed to disregard resumes from Intuit employees, Reuters reports.
Joseph Wayland, the Justice Department’s acting antitrust chief, is quoted at Siliconvalley.com as saying:
eBay’s agreement with Intuit hurt employees by lowering the salaries and benefits they might have received and deprived them of better job opportunities at the other company.>
The federal lawsuit against eBay was filed Friday in San Jose federal court. California Attorney General Kamala Harris also filed a separate lawsuit against eBay Friday, saying:
The pact harmed employees and it harmed competition. If California is going to continue to be the high-tech capital of the world, we can’t allow anticompetitive conduct that prevents talent from going where it’s put to its highest use.
Harris’s announcement says that California law contains stronger protections against anti-competitive behavior than federal law.
eBay says it will vigorously defend itself against the allegations.
“The DOJ is taking an overly aggressive interpretation in their enforcement of antitrust law in this area,” eBay spokeswoman Lara Wyss is quoted as saying.