Feds Probing Google, Apple for Antitrust Hiring Practices

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-06-03 Print this article Print

Are major technology companies such as Google, Apple and others violating antitrust laws by negotiating not to hire away top talent from each other?

That's what the federal government is said to be investigating, according to an article in the Washington Post. From the article:

The review, which is said to be in its preliminary stages, is focused on the search engine giant Google; its competitor Yahoo; Apple, maker of the popular iPhone; and the biotech firm Genentech, among others, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing...

The sources said the review includes other tech companies and is "industry-wide." By agreeing not to hire away top talent, the companies could be stifling competition and trying to maintain their market power unfairly, antitrust experts said.

None of the companies or the government were willing to comment on the case in the WP article. Overall details beyond this information are scarce, but it certainly underscores the challenges of employees who are open and willing to be recruited for positions at competing companies, many who are stymied by non-compete agreements already.

That is, if you live in a state or the company you work for is based in a state that recognizes non-compete agreements. California, for one, does not recognize non-compete agreements, though as with all law, judgment is open to interpretation.

However, storage and data giant EMC was recently able to stop an executive from managing the storage division of HP after a California judge chose to uphold the Massachussets law that permits non-compete agreements.

Given that the law on non-compete agreements differs state to state, the potential of collusive behavior on refraining from hiring top talent between competing tech companies could be worrisome for those looking to make a change in a down economy.

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