As a result of allegedly entering an illegal anti-poaching agreement that prohibited the hiring of each other’s employees, some of the top technology companies in the world are now facing an antitrust lawsuit. The alleged anti-poaching agreement between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, and several other technology giants caused five software engineers to initiate a class-action lawsuit against their employers.
When a Google recruiter tried to hire an Apple engineer in 2007, Steve Jobs emailed Eric Schmidt to request that Google honor the agreement. Schmidt promptly fired the recruiter and emailed the staffing department the following message:
“I believe we have a policy of no recruiting from Apple and this is a direct inbound request. Can you get this stopped and let me know why this is happening? I will need to send a response back to Apple quickly so please let me know as soon as you can.”
The lawsuit, which is based on a violation of both the federal Sherman antitrust law and the California Cartwright act, claims that pay and job mobility were negatively affected due to the technology companies conspiring to prevent the recruitment of their employees. Although the technology companies requested that the court dismiss the lawsuit, on Wednesday night District Judge Lucy Koh indicated in her ruling that the evidence of the agreements was far too great to be ignored:
“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.”
The defendants’ lawyers believe that thousands of employees were impacted by the agreement and that the direct damages will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Unless a settlement is reached prior to trial, the case is currently scheduled to be heard in June of 2013.