Employees Suing Intuit, Google for Antitrust, and Winning

Employees are suing Intuit, Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Pixar and Lucasfilm. They say the companies violated antitrust laws by agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees.

A Federal Judge said, “They still have an antitrust claim that’s going forward, so I don’t want to see any obstruction on discovery.” The judge did not question allegations about agreements between companies, but asked about an overall conspiracy between them. New court filings also show an e-mail from Apple CEO Steve Jobs to Google co-founder Eric Schmidt, about Google trying to hire an Apple engineer. Jobs wrote, “I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this.” The response said Google would fire the recruiter and “Please extend my apologies as appropriate to Steve Jobs.”

This should help quiet Intuit apologists, who took issue when I wrote Intuit Admits Antitrust Violations (and lies about it) and related posts.


Restrained Competition

This lawsuit mirrors a 2010 U.S. Justice Department settlement. The companies kept do-not-call lists to avoid recruiting and restrain competition, which hurt employees. In 2005, senior Adobe and Apple executives agreed not to cold-call each other’s employees. Apple and Google had do-not-call lists starting in 2006. In 2007, Apple and Pixar agreed not to call each other’s staffs and Google agreed not to cold-call Intel and Intuit employees. The Justice settlement, however, did not provide employee damages.


Possible Damages

The decision requires defendants to produce documents describing the agreements and permits lawyers to take depositions. Damages could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.


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