Tim Cook Ordered To Give Deposition In Antitrust Case Over ‘No-Hire’ Agreements



Apple CEO Tim Cook must provide a deposition in a lawsuit that claims the Cupertino company, along with other major firms in Silicon Valley, violated antitrust rules by entering into an agreement not to recruit each other’s employees. Apple’s lawyer, George Riley, had objected to the order handed out by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, on Thursday.

Other companies included in the lawsuit include Google, Intel, Adobe, Walt Disney, Pixar, and Intuit. The case, which was brought on behalf of employees, claims that all seven parties had agreed to refrain from placing “cold calls” in an effort to lure workers away from one another. The plaintiffs claim that as a result of this, worker mobility was restricted, and companies were able to keep salaries low.

Koh told lawyers on Thursday that Apple co-founder and former CEO was copied into emails that had been issued in the case, and that she found it “hard to believe” that Cook — then Apple’s chief operating officer — would have been unaware of such agreements. Koh added that she was disappointed that senior executives at the companies involved hadn’t beed deposed before yesterday’s hearing.

Koh also requested that Google chairman Eric Schmidt be deposed on February 20, while Intel CEO Paul Otellini will be deposed later this month.

Robert Mittelstaedt, a lawyer representing the companies, argued that there was no evidence that everyone in the proposed class was hurt by the alleged “no-hire” agreement — which is required for the group to be certified as a class.

“You can’t assume that if someone got a raise from a cold call” that the effect of that negotiation would “ripple to everybody else,” Mittelstaedt told Koh. “Why would a company give a raise to someone in a negotiation if it knew it had to turn around and give a raise to everyone else?”

A Justice Department investigation into this issue back in 2010 said that the companies kept do-not-call lists to avoid competitive recruiting, and that this hurt employees. It also found that in May 2005, executives from Adobe and Apple agreed not to cold-call each other’s employees. Apple was said to have similar agreements with Google and Pixar, while Google had an agreement with Intel and Intuit.

Source: Bloomberg

  • technochick

    The headline is a tad false. No one is accusing them of ‘no hire’ deals. If I am an Apple employee and I choose to seek a job at Google etc there is no evidence that Google would simply refuse to hire me because of some arrangement with Apple. Just that Google agreed not to call me and try to get me to leave.

    Personally I don’t see what the problem is with such arrangements, especially when you consider that in some states those ‘non compet’ contract clauses that block you from going to another similar company for 6-12 months or so are valid and enforceable. So someone could try to poach someone that would end up in a legal mess for leaving to take the job.

    As for the whole salary claim, if my employer is paying me less than what I think I should make, I’m free to go find someone that will pay my price so how can anyone say that such deals are holding back salary. Other factors are more likely the cause of that situation.

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