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Judge Denies Dismissal of No-Poach Conspiracy Case 224

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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  • Antitrust? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2012 @10:36AM (#38839083)

    I'm for competition and against collusion, but that's supposed to be about the way companies sell products. How is poaching employees supposed to be good for the consumer?

  • Re:Antitrust? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2012 @10:41AM (#38839143)
    I worked as a contractor for Google a few years ago. You would probably have to work in video game QA to find a bigger sweatshop out there.
  • Re:Antitrust? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @10:47AM (#38839203)

    It’s not about the consumers, it’s about the employees. Companies want to keep their payroll down so they conspire not to hire the other’s employees. Dampens completion and thus pay.

    On the flip side, I have seen a rival company hire away whole teams. All of a sudden a company had a great line of business and the next day it’s across the street. Sometimes it has been a key operations department (i.e. the department that keeps the companies’ door open, not one that makes any profit.) It can be quite stressful for a company.

    In my line of business, if somebody wants to poach another person’s team (Such as all of the brokers in a office or a analyst team) the only answer is more money. On the other side, if one want’s to poach a operations team, you got to leave enough people so the company can run. Not quite fair that the 2 types of people are treated different - it's jus the way the cookie crumbles.

  • Re:Common sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Friday January 27, 2012 @11:13AM (#38839519)

    Even worse, parts of the allegations verge on blackballing: it's alleged that when an employer from company A applied to a job at company B, where A & B were part of the "no-poaching" collusion agreement, company B would not only refuse to hire them to avoid poaching, but actually rat the employee out to company A, telling them that this employee tried to apply for a job.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @11:16AM (#38839545) Journal
    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 Club. And one of them go so upset he drank a little too much and spilled it all to some friendly guy tending to him as he was throwing up in the men's room. That is how the whole thing came out in the open.
  • Re:Unions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @11:34AM (#38839767)

    Edit: I have a confusing sentence in there. When I say, "Unions can force all new hires to become union members (which amounts to the same thing)," I mean it amounts to the same thing Trepidity was saying (closed shop), not the same as what the companies are doing right now.

    Unions cannot force employees to become members. They can, however, force employees to pay dues. The reason behind this is that they do not want employees to have an economic incentive to avoid the union. In some states, such as California, they cannot force you to pay the money directly to the union; you may contribute the money to a charity of your choice instead.

  • Re:Common sense (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2012 @11:49AM (#38839921)

    Utter bullshit. Legal not moral my ass. "We don't hire blacks" is an IMMORAL position as well as illegal. How's about you try joining the rest of us in the 21st century sometime?

    Likewise your utter drivel about any reason whatsoever is exactly what can lead to mass exploitation. All it takes is a little collusion between employers and there's no reason to pay any staff decent wages. Your ideas would drag us back to the feudal era.

  • Re:Unions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Azuaron ( 1480137 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:23PM (#38840371)

    I can only speak on my experience with teachers' unions in Washington state, but yes they can. A teacher in WA automatically becomes an "agency fee" member of the teachers' union, must pay dues to the union, must accept the union's collectively bargained salary and benefits packages, and must go on strike when the union says to go on strike. If they become a full member (for a higher due) they get some additional benefits (liability insurance, representation, voting in the union, etc.). But as far as salary and basic benefits bargaining, they get what the union gets. So even if you're "not a part of the union," you're a part of the union.

    Aside: teachers' strikes are... weird. Because of how their pay is setup, they keep getting paid and, often, will end up working the same number of days just pushed into summer. Since the public schools aren't making something to sell, they don't have much of an incentive to get the teachers back to work (no lost profits). And the youth crime rate spikes because all the hooligans don't have school and get bored.

    (Apparently I'm not the only one [] who hates teachers' unions.)

  • Re:Antitrust? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anthony Mouse ( 1927662 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:26PM (#38840393)

    ... Google, Apple...

    They aren't allies.

    Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt were actually good friends for a while. Schmidt was even on Apple's board, until he had to leave when Google bought Android and it created a conflict of interest. That was one of the reasons Jobs was so mad about Android -- he felt like it was busting up his friendship.

    Incidentally, if you want to help me test a hypothesis, try paying attention to the media coverage of this story to see how much the MPAA-owned media cover this story with Google as the principal antagonist/coordinator of the scheme and Apple as a secondary or unimportant player now that Google has gone to bat for us against SOPA, even though it was Steve Jobs [] who started the ball rolling on this whole no poach thing. Pay special attention to News Corp coverage (e.g. Fox News and the Wall Street Journal) -- my hypothesis is that Murdoch has it in for Google now and is executing a campaign against them. Let's see if I'm right.

  • Re:Antitrust? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:53PM (#38840805) Homepage

    I guess you could say it isn't, but the threat of workers being poached (in *some* sense) is what keeps wages from falling to zero in the first place, protecting the worker.

    You exaggerate a bit. The average wage you would get in a world without the threat of workers quitting or getting hired away is basically W = (R + T) / 40 + U, where W = annual wages, T is the cost of training the worker, R is the cost of providing the basic necessities of the future worker from birth to the start of their career, and U is the annual upkeep of the worker (food, shelter, water, clothing, health care, transportation to/from work and stores). The '40' is the length of the worker's career, generally assumed here to be something like 24-64.

    For a software developer, that comes out to something like:
    R = $270,000
    T = $150,000
    U = $20,000
    W = ($270000+$150000) / 40 + $25000 = ($420000) / 40 + $25000 = $10500+$25000 = $35,500 annual after-tax income.
    Which is still obviously way lower than the competitive salary of a developer.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright