Apple and Google to Face Antitrust Lawsuit Over Employee Anti-Poaching Collusion

Reuters reports Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm have been ordered to face an antitrust lawsuit as they allegedly conspired to not ‘cold call’ and poach each other’s employees. Five engineers proposed the class action lawsuit and have accused them of limiting millions in job pay and mobility in the tech industry for workers.

Antitrust claims were also raised in 2010 by the U.S. Dept. of Justice against these companies but were eventually settled out of court. This time around, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has denied the bid by the aforementioned companies to dismiss antitrust claims.

In a decision on Wednesday night, [Judge] Koh said the existence of “Do Not Cold Call” agreements among various defendants “supports the plausible inference that the agreements were negotiated, reached, and policed at the highest levels” of the companies.

“The fact that all six identical bilateral agreements were reached in secrecy among seven defendants in a span of two years suggests that these agreements resulted from collusion, and not from coincidence,” Koh added.

Even more interesting are the leaked 2007 email correspondence between the late Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, both CEOs of their companies at the time. Jobs had emailed Schmidt to tell Google to stop an attempt to recruit a particular Apple engineer:

“I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this,” Jobs wrote Schmidt, an Apple director at the time.

Schmidt forwarded that email to various people, asking if they could “get this stopped.”

Eventually, Google’s staffing director said the employee who recruited the engineer would be fired, and added: “Please extend my apologies as appropriate to Steve Jobs.”

The tech industry is pretty competitive when it comes to retaining their talent, I can see how these companies including Apple and Google would do anything to prevent their workers from being ‘poached’.

[via Reuters]