back to article Feds: Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Pixar had wage-fixing no-poach pact

Emails between Apple, Adobe, Intel and others are making them look bad as the US Justice Department mounts a case against them for setting up "anti-poaching" deals in which they allegedly agreed not to hire each other's people away. The emails are part of the Justice Department's evidence in its class action suit that accuses …


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  1. Big Al

    Civilised behaviour

    Agreeing not to actively poach (i.e. go after) your rivals' staff is a way to keep things civilised, and stop the relationship between companies nosediving into accusations of bad faith, bad behaviour, outright theft and suchlike.

    I honestly cannot see how you can force a company to agree that it WILL seek to poach staff from other companies in its sphere.

    But that's a very different thing to saying you will never hire any applicant who comes from a rival company, of course - that would be very underhanded and unfair on workers in the sector concerned.

    1. Arctic fox
      Thumb Down


      Rigging the market (whichever type of market we are talking about) is not "civilised behaviour".

      1. Big Al

        @ Arctic fox

        "Rigging the market (whichever type of market we are talking about) is not "civilised behaviour"."

        If every company has to be completely paranoid about having its staff poached every time they work with another company, because of the contact between their staffs, they will stop doing so. This will stifle innovation, stifle collaboration, and prevent the spread of standards (because managers won't be willing to allow their staffs to work together on them).

        Preventing *any* hiring of others' staff would indeed be a market fixing measure, and is something to stop dead in its tracks. But an agreement not to *ACTIVELY* headhunt others' employees simply makes it easier for companies to work together. That's why they have such agreements - not because they're ueber-capitalists out to grind down the working masses.

        1. Arctic fox

          You would then argue, of course, equally as strongly in favour of trades unions.......

          .......doing their best to organise things in an analogous way on behalf of their members. You would of course argue strongly against any attempt to prevent trades unions from doing this on behalf of their members - equally as strongly as you argue on behalf of "The Management" - of course. Hmm?

          1. Oninoshiko

            As one who is opposes to trade-unions in all but the most egregious cases of employer malfeasance, let me point out the following:

            If this accusation is true (and, based on these emails, it appears to be), this is a clear case of trust-type market manipulation. I generally support a free market as the best solution to most problems, but when monopolies and trusts conspire to artificially manipulate pricing the concept of a "free market" has already been lost.

            The market where this is the most important is the human resources market. We are talking about people and families. While no one has a right to a job, they do have the right to a fair opportunity to negotiate, which is what this type of manipulation denies. This type of behavior cannot be tolerated, and requires offenders receive the most stiff punishments available.

        2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          > Rigging the market (whichever type of market we are talking about) is not "civilised behaviour"

          > Probably supports labor unions

        3. streaky

          "If every company has to be completely paranoid about having its staff poached every time they work with another company, because of the contact between their staffs, they will stop doing so"

          That's the cost of doing business. Try paying your employees better and not treating like f**ktards maybe. See the problem here? If your business is unsustainable it just is, if you treat employees like muppets you'll lose them. End of story really.

          It's no difference to between some hypothetical energy companies who all agree to raise prices together then when it gets a bit hard to operate without politicians saying something about how scummy you are you all agree to mysteriously drop prices exactly 5% at the same time. Hypothertically if that happened somewhere (and I'm totally not saying that happens right now in the UK whatsoever nor that they operate as a cartel and there's no competition, why would anybody think that?).

          Of course it distorts the markets to agree to not hunt people's staff, and of course you should be punished. It stops people earning what they should earn, being treated as they should be treated, just looking at what it does to people directly.

    2. Tiny Iota

      Preventing a company agreeing not to poach another’s employees is not the same as forcing it “to agree that it WILL seek to poach staff”. How about ensuring there is no agreement of any kind: if they do they do, if they don’t they don’t.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      "...accusations of bad faith, bad behaviour, outright theft and suchlike."

      'Outright theft' be fucked!

      Employees aren't a companies property you do know there's a word for that, right!?

    4. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Read all the assumptions

      Civil Court and Contract Law exist in part as an alternative to Code Duello. Duels of "Honor" between "Gentlemen" are always messy and waste talent. They are "civilized".

      Now fast-forward and understand that both Civil Court and Contract Law have lost their ability to satisfy duels of honor between gentlemen because Employers have no honor and Employees are not gentlemen.

      I personally would like to watch some sociopathic old goat duel for a raise with a 20 year old with lightening fast reflexes which have been honed by years of video games. Purely for entertainment, of course.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are an idiot.

      If you do not want your staff to leave, pay them and treat them well.

      As the merecats say Simples.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward



      as for getting a prosecution, it is doubtful as they are all under the protectionism of their own country.

      Good luck FBI on a case that will be quietly dropped in a year or so.

    7. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      The issue is not that they agreed to not solicit each others employees. The issue is that they agreed to not hire employees who wanted to leave where they were, and applied for a job at the other company all on their own. The defense, that there was no large "conspiracy", only a very large number of bilateral agreements is disingenuous, as the bilateral agreements are also illegal (in the US).

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Problem? I think not.

        > The issue is that they agreed to not hire employees who wanted to leave where they were, and applied for a job at the other company all on their own.

        Considering that the world's employers does not consist only of these companies, I fail to see how any of that is a problem.

        The only things that happens is that really good people will be hired out or leave the pool formed by the "gentlemen's club" companies [preferably going abroad where one can give the finger to any agreement not to use the part of your brain used in one's former job, too].

        Or one can open one's own company.

        Additionally, note that new entrants to that pool will be more expensive once the fact of the club is known.

    8. Sam Therapy
      Thumb Down


      To create an artificial situation in order to keep an employee's wages low?

      You Sir, are a tit.

  2. Arctic fox

    Well, well, well. Yet another example, if we needed it that...........

    ........there are no heroes amongst "BigCorp". It does not matter who's kit we may prefer this just demonstrates that, *whichever* company we are talking about, whether you are an employee and/or a customer, they regard you as their "lawful prey". Anyone feeling (regardless of denomination) "fanboish" right now?

  3. nexsphil

    tinfoil hat!!

    Conspiracy is impossible you fools - everybody knows that. And anyone who proposes otherwise is insane. Do you want to be known for believing in alien moon bases and colonic irrigation? Then shut it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whereas in the UK...

    ...Banks just cut Contractor rates at the Same Time by the Same Amount.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge

    You can bet how this would have been reported

    if *employees* had got together to try and leverage wages .....

    1. Richard 120

      You mean

      Like a union?

      There should be more action by unions on behalf of IT staff, including contractors.

      I'm part ot the way socialist.

      1. Aaron Em

        Socialist, eh? Keep working on it

        "More action by unions on behalf of IT staff"? I think you may need to do some remedial reading in the nature of a trade union and the manner in which one is constituted -- I'm afraid expecting somebody else's union to do it for you is rather badly missing the point.

        (And good luck organizing IT workers, too. Herding cats would be a doddle by comparison.)

        1. Richard 120

          @Aaron Em

          What are you going on about?

          You think a union is made up of only people who do the same jobs?

          I'm afraid you're somewhat behind the times, by several decades.

  6. M Gale

    Lucasfilm is not a tech firm?

    No argument there, but who keeps their monstrously powerful render servers working?

    Also Pixar, set up by a certain now-dead fruity CEO. I guess all their animations are hand drawn? They don't hire any IT talent at all?

    1. Aaron Em

      Bit silly as comparisons go

      By your standard, Bank of America is also a tech firm, because of all the people they employ to keep their infrastructure well fed and cosseted.

      Granted 'tech firm' is not a phrase with an ISO standard definition, at least not one of which I'm aware. But if any company with a major IT investment is a 'tech firm', then what isn't?

    2. O RLY

      Pixar was established by a LucasFilm division; Jobs bought it from Lucas.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dont be evil!

    NO, more like can't help but be evil!

    Not that the employees would be any less evil. They would have taken advantage and ramped up wages given the opportunity.

    Well done mankind, you bring it upon yourselves.

    1. Richard 120

      The emplyees may take advantage

      But that only works to a certain point, if you are skilled and a good worker you get rewarded, whereas if you're not then you don't.

      What is wrong with wanting a salary that reflects your abilities and effort?

      Take what these companies have done to the extreme and you end up with slavery.

      This is the sort of act (and logic) which keeps the 1% rich.

      1. Vic

        > if you are skilled and a good worker you get rewarded, whereas if you're not then you don't.

        ...Unless you have an MBA...


  8. Arctic fox
    Thumb Up

    @JimmyPage RE: "You can bet how this would have been reported"

    Of course. Their hypocrisy knows no limits. The Bosses get together and "sort things out", that's great. If the employees do it it is clearly "Communism" and the "End Of Civilisation As We Know It".

  9. Eponymous Cowherd

    Let the chairs bear witness.....

    That Microsoft wasn't involved.

  10. JDX Gold badge

    re:Lucasfilm is not a tech firm?

    Every company USES technology and every large company CREATES technology. But there's a big difference from being a company whose entire business is SELLING technology.

    1. TheOtherHobbbes


      isn't really a Chocolate Factory.

      Unfortunately in a case like this, no matter what the intellectual prostitutes - I mean, lawyers - are paid to say in their usual excited and overly dramatic way, what matters is what you do to your employees, not how you label it.

      And on that basis, this looks very much like textbook cartel price-fixing in the labour market.

      LucasFilm makes films, Apple distributes them. If they employ tech people it's monopolistic abuse if they agree not to compete on salary offers.

      Of course, what would be really, really interesting would be similar emails and conversations between the other movie studios - if they happen to exist somewhere.

      Which I'm sure they don't.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        I guess movie studios tend to hire people for a particular film, then when that film is finished, they go off and work on a different film. You do see actors working on lots of different films for different studios over the course of their career.

        On the marketing and distribution side, and the people who decide which movies to produce, I suppose it could be a different matter.

    2. M Gale

      I think the problem here... people reading me wrong.

      No, Lucasfilm is not a tech firm. I never said it was.

      However, Lucasfilm may have an interest in poaching people from "real" tech firms, because they can keep whatever IT they have running well or manage the IT department better. To use "we're not a tech firm" to say "well we'd never agree to wage fixing with a tech firm" is.. invalid, I think.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    It's just wrong, period. If I'm not happy with my current work or pay, I have the option of seeking out something better. If one of those companies have a position available that I'm qualified for, but simply chooses not to hire me because of some agreement, then I'm screwed. Sounds like gentlemans discrimination to me. "You're qualified for the position but we can't hire you becuase you work for _____________".

  12. C-N


    And here I was thinking that companies hated unions.

  13. kain preacher

    Remember this

    The next time some says well if you are worth it you can get better pay. No need to form a union if the job is crap just get another one. If you are skilled it should not be that hard .

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