In addition to shutting down Megaupload, the Department Of Justice made another choice chunk of information public last night: evidence of multiple Silicon Valley companies conspiring to not poach each other's employees. On the surface, it may sound like tepid HR industry fodder, but it's something that affects all of us through the products we use.

According to documents uncovered by TechCrunch, a DOJ investigation drudged up proof that Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, LucasFilm and Pixar all made agreements with one another to not only refrain from going after an employee from one of the other companies, but to not make them an offer if an employee voluntarily offered. The most prominent example being an email from Adobe CEO to Steve Jobs making explicit mention of such an agreement. The DOJ called this anti-competitive, and now these companies face a class-action lawsuit.

TechCrunch - High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation - Exhibit Joint Case Management Conference Statement 1...Click to view

But more than just quelling the threat of a company losing employees, behavior like this can cause a chain effect. Not having to worry about losing an employee to another company gives an outfit less incentive to offer raises and/or promotions to deserving workers. That, in turn, can breed job dissatisfaction and poor morale for those who feel they can't work their way up. And considering these are all firms who generate products we all like and use, why would an employee who doesn't care about their job care about working their hardest to help develop something new and awesome? Then you get stuck with shitty products.

For their part, the companies contest that this agreement was not made en masse, but rather individual agreements were struck between certain companies, though the DOJ believes they have evidence pointing to the contrary.

...documents state that there is "strong evidence that the companies knew about the other express agreements, patterned their own agreements off of them, and operated them concurrently with the others to accomplish the same objective."

If these companies choose to settle or plead guilty, a large, large percentage of people employed at these companies may be entitled to a payout. Which they very well may deserve. [TechCrunch]

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