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DOJ Investigates Google, Apple, and Others For 'No Poaching' Agreement 360

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-only-cheating-if-you-get-caught dept.
CSHARP123 writes "The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the 'No Poaching' agreement between Apple and Google in 2010, but details of the case were only made public for the first time yesterday. TechCrunch was the first to sift through the documents, and has uncovered some ostensibly incriminating evidence against not only Google and Apple, but Pixar, Lucasfilm, Adobe, Intel, and Intuit, as well. According to the filings from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, these companies did indeed enter 'no poach' agreements with each other, and agreed to refrain from soliciting employees. The documents also indicate they collectively sought to limit their employees' power to negotiate for higher salaries."
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DOJ Investigates Google, Apple, and Others For 'No Poaching' Agreement

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:18AM (#38761492)

    As my wise Republican candidates have pointed out, this kind of thing is proof that the free market--left to itself and without any government oversight, regulation, or interference--will make things better for all of us. The DoJ needs to get off the backs of these job-creating companies and let them give their employees the freedom that Jesus and Capitalism can only provide when we have a free market with no regulation or oversight. Anything less is socialism.

    • by Motard (1553251) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:39AM (#38761744)

      This represents a non-free job market. That's the problem and why it's apprpriate for government to step in.

      No one is arguing for no regulation. But there is such a thing as over regulation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Herkum01 (592704)

        Your kidding me right? That is what the Republican Party has been screaming about the last 4 years. They want NO regulation on anything!

        • EPA, gone.
        • Minimum wage, get rid of it.
        • Oversight for Banking, no!

        Those are just a few examples off the top of my head, I am sure that there are more. Take Ron Paul; he is in favor of getting rid of a few government agencies just for the sake of getting rid of something.

        Lets not pretend that everyone is a reasonable human being.

        • Pretty sure Ron Paul wants oversight on banking, just the largest one (the Fed) is where we should start in his opinion.
    • I imagine the GOP's equivalent of Anonymous will be defacing the DOJ's website over this momentarily.
    • by Artraze (600366)

      Have the republicans really pointed that out? I don't even think many libertarians think that way either. Readily available information is a vital part of a healthy free market, and these secret agreements violate that principle. This is the exactly the sort of thing that the government _should_ be doing in a free market economy: correcting the non ideal factors of real world competition. Things like limiting monopolies and ensuring availability of accurate information (e.g. in advertising) are some reg

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        This no poaching agreements could be supportive of Free Market principles. By preventing companies from directly advertising jobs to a specific potential employee they have to make the job posting public and consequently open to more potentially employees. So instead of Apple directly soliciting a top engineer from Google with Google possibly being unaware of it a particularly savvy Google could see that Apple is looking for a new top engineer and they would be able to notice that one of their employees is

    • by Laxori666 (748529)

      The free market does not adjust itself overnight. But, had the DoJ not done anything, there is a good chance the situation would have changed in a few years. Why? Essentially, a certain group of X companies are colluding to keep employee salaries low. Say the market salary for an employee would be A, but it's reduced to D as a result of the collusion. This is an unstable situation for two reasons: first of all, it's possible that one of the X companies will start hiring employees for a slightly higher salar

      • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:51PM (#38762970)

        Your argument supposes (wrongly) that other companies would not prefer to pay lower wages as well. Without regulation new companies will simply join the collusion against employees, and the overall average wage will remain depreciated indefinitely, they have no incentive to offer more money if they can simply join the scheme and pay less like everyone else. The net effect is to drive down the pay/productivity of employees, and thereby drive up profits.

        This agreement appears to be a followup to the now defunct rules that were 'non compete' clauses (that were, but afaik not legal in California anymore*). Those had the same net effect - you couldn't change employers quickly and if you tried you'd be potentially out several months or years salary in doing so. Since non competes have been around as long as I've been in the IT business (which is getting on to 15 years now) this has, in various forms, been going on for a very long time, and the market doesn't seem to have corrected itself. Actually, it's exactly what I said, in that time new companies emerged, (say, google) and were folded into the grand scheme by the existing players (intel, adobe, Apple and so on). The details of the scheme changed, but it's the same scheme. Sure, they still drive up prices for employees competing for talent to some degree - but not as much as they would have without the protection for employers either from non compete contracts or from collusion.

        A free market is free to have a massive coordinated effort by those with money to operate from an unfair position against those who don't have money. Preventing the unfair coordination is the point of (some) regulation.

        *I don't live in the US, or California, and never have (or will). My recollection on the details of these rules is hazy as it won't ever directly effect me.

        • This is actually quite pertinent.

          Most/all companies set salaries according to the "market median". They claim to have commissioned some survey org to go poll for salaries in the area and then set their salary bands accordingly. They don't attempt to retain talent but salary, but by inertia.

          If I'm not likely to get lots more dough for moving someplace new, I probably won't. A new workplace means:
          - you need to integrate into a new environment, which might be worse than your current.
          - You definitely need to p

  • by Megaweapon (25185) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:20AM (#38761516) Homepage

    we need that money to fuel the lawyers for all our patent violation lawsuits against each other.

  • Ooooohh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:34AM (#38761672) Homepage Journal

    Get a load of that coincidence. it 'coincides' just 2 days after sopa protests, and involves almost all major technology companies that have major stakes on internet. Just like how the megaupload bust 'coincided' a day after sopa protests, yesterday.

    • Re:Ooooohh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:12PM (#38762300) Homepage

      Get a load of that coincidence. it 'coincides' just 2 days after sopa protests, and involves almost all major technology companies that have major stakes on internet. Just like how the megaupload bust 'coincided' a day after sopa protests, yesterday.

      Your assumptions of government competence are staggering.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      A lot of those companies are pro-SOPA or SOPA-neutral. Lucasfilm and Pixar are certainly pro-SOPA; Apple and Adobe have been pro-SOPA but are now merely quiet on the issue.

  • by spopepro (1302967) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:42AM (#38761806)
    It's funny that this drops the same day as the Fortune list of best companies to work for. I see many name here at the top of that list. Not quite sure what to think... I dislike secret corporate agreements, especially to keep salaries down, but I had a fellowship at Intel and found it to be a really good environment, and my colleagues thought so too. At the same time one couldn't help but to notice the incredible number of green badges (contractors) used while Intel posts record quarters. I suppose when you are as big as Intel, it's nearly impossible to be all good, or all evil.
  • by Purist (716624)
    Most B2B contracts I've seen, particularly ones involving services, have a "non-solicit" agreement where each party agrees not to hire the other's employees away for a set period of time. It's not uncommon and I'd be willing to wager that all of these companies have done business with one another in some way, shape or form. Entering into this kind of an agreement without legitimate business that might expose the parties to one another's valuable human resources might be a problem. The part about collecti
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The problem is trying to negotiate for a raise but what was happening in the 1970s - you work for company A for six months and company B comes along and offers you 25% more. Six months later, company C offers 20% more. Six months after that, company A offers the same person another 25% raise to come back. Yes, this gets out of hand quickly and is something that just about everyone - including the employees - hate. Sure, it is nice to be wanted but sooner or later it is going to catch up to you. It also

  • ...years ago. So if poaching is illegal whats wrong with agreeing not to poach>?

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Poaching is completely legal in an employment sense. Google got to steal people from Microsoft to prevent them from developing a search engine earlier and while they got sued nothing really happened. I think Microsoft has done the same thing to Google as well. And I know Apple has been on both sides in the past.

      There are no laws that say company B cannot directly contact company A's employees and offer them higher paying jobs. Of course, once you start down that road there are few limits as to what can

  • It must be great to be a C-level executive, with a near limitless salary, and not subject to this kind of underhanded collusion because you're making all the rules and approving your own raises.

  • The enrichment of those who own has always far exceeded that of those who actually create.

    It's the way of the world.

    Not right, but how it is.

  • by Surt (22457) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:08PM (#38762218) Homepage Journal

    So Google offered me less in salary than they might have without this agreement. I wonder if I could sue them for lost income.

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:09PM (#38762236) Homepage

    Only acceptable when done by employers, not employees. Got it.

  • Facebook? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    From what I hear, this whole cozy arrangement has been disrupted by Facebook, which started poaching techies from all of the above with higher pay...

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