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US Justice Dept. Sues eBay For Anti-Competitive Hiring Practices

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the scratcha-my-back dept.

IT 66

McGruber writes "The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department is suing eBay for allegedly agreeing with Intuit not to hire each other's employees. According to the article, 'eBay's agreement with Intuit hurt employees by lowering the salaries and benefits they might have received and deprived them of better job opportunities at the other company,' said acting Assistant Attorney General Joseph Wayland, who is in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division. The division 'has consistently taken the position that these kinds of agreements are per se (on their face) unlawful under antitrust laws.'"

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66 comments

Quickbooks User Here (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009395)

As a software developer and QuickBooks user I can assure you that no one should hire the Intuit guys anyway.

Re:Quickbooks User Here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009441)

Especially not the niggers. They are only good for picking cotton, not developing software*.

--
* Though it does give new meaning to the term "code monkey".

Re:Quickbooks User Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009453)

Did posting that make you feel better?

Re:Quickbooks User Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010443)

Yes, actually. I found it quite therapeutic. Thank you for asking however.

Re:Quickbooks User Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009475)

Once upon a time in our country's history, that was an important task. Sadly, these days, it is done better and cheaper elsewhere in the world, and technology has rendered it more and more obsolete. Picking cotton, on the other hand, can still make you money here in the USA.

Re:Quickbooks User Here (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009655)

And as a former eBay employee, I can assure you that no one is deprived by not working for them.

Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009413)

IBM uses contract employee companies like CDI for disposable employees. CDI and IBM have agreements that limit CDI employee's ability to apply for other positions within CDI and IBM. Would these agreements be illegal as well?

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009493)

They do this because the law allows them to. Do you know why the law is in favor of such shitting? Because the govt would crumble having to pay a fair wage to these folks

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009597)

They do this because the law allows them to. Do you know why the law is in favor of such shitting? Because the govt would crumble having to pay a fair wage to these folks

Not according the to U.S. Justice Department and the article summary.

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (4, Interesting)

AaronLS (1804210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009735)

Maybe not in the case of CDI/IBM, but otherwise contractors working for the government cost 2x what it would cost them for direct hire(including benefits). They just want the freedom to increase/decrease workforce as needed. It gets around alot of red tape as well in terms of both hiring/firing. If there is a hiring/pay freeze instituted at the state level, but your agency has enough money to hire needed employees, then pay for "services" of an agency. What's ironic is the blindly broad hiring/pay freeze results in agencies wasting money in this case.

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42011109)

Even worse, now we pay for "products" which are reports, since we can't hire "service" contractors. That means the same people are doing the work, but now they're not allowed to have a desk in our facility, which seriously limits communications. Solution? 6 cubes = "conference room" instead of "shared work space"

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (1)

Gwala (309968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009499)

My first guess would say no; and this is an uninformed opinion - but that is probably structured as a non-poach agreement, e.g. IBM is not allowed to poach employees from CDI.

That does tend to be legal - although the punishment is relatively thin. IBM would only have to pay for a recruiter to find someone of similar calibre to CDI in damages if it ever went to court/arbitration/settlement.

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (1)

ranton (36917) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009657)

I work for a contracting company, and I cannot imagine taking a full time job at one of the companies that hires my firm. It was my company's marketing that gathered that contact, and for me to snake that out from under them just seems wrong.

But then again, legally I can't really see any difference between this and and what eBay is being accused of. I honestly cannot figure out what my opinion on this is.

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009901)

your reasons shock me. if your company (A) pays you X to go do stuff for company (B) and company (B) offers you 1.5X to do the same stuff as their own employee, you would refuse a significant pay increase out of loyalty to company (A) or, even worse, company (A)'s marketing team?

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42011381)

your reasons shock me. if your company (A) pays you X to go do stuff for company (B) and company (B) offers you 1.5X to do the same stuff as their own employee, you would refuse a significant pay increase out of loyalty to company (A) or, even worse, company (A)'s marketing team?

This is one of those trick questions from the SATs. It turns out that company (A) is a marketing firm staffing company and the OP does marketing work for company (B).

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (2)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009957)

This happens all the time though, in fact frequently these positions are marketed to contractors as "contract to hire" (not that it usually happens, that's just a gimmick, I think I saw one contractor turned in 7 years, most are removed and replaced in 1.5 years). The company with the job just wants a disposable employee with a side effect of try-before-you-buy, the employee just wants a job, and the contracting company wants a piece of the action.

It seems to me that it's perfectly acceptable for you to leave the contract house and go to the employer if offered the position. No one is being bankrupted by this, if anything the entire existence of the contracting house to begin with is shady: employer finds our legal system to be inconvenient to their hiring practices, contract house offers a loophole around the laws, employee usually wants a full time position but will take a paycheck however offered.

Finally, if the contracting house keeps digging up full time employees, they will be seen as a valuable resource by HR and their services sought more often. I don't know about you, but my job doesn't give me a lot of time to shop around. I rely on suppliers to provide a service and want to spend as little time on the finding as I can. If I find one that's great, I keep using them. If they fail me, I shop around.

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009779)

Or how about non-compete clauses in general?

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010017)

Or how about non-compete clauses in general?

IANAL, but last I heard it varies by state. There's a good discussion of it here [findlaw.com] , but the article is 4 years old.

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (5, Informative)

Chuckstar (799005) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009965)

The eBay/Intuit agreement (and the other similar agreements that were subject to a settlement a few years ago) were very broad in scope. It might be the breadth that is the issue.

I know, for instance, that it is legal for a company to agree not to solicit employees of another company for a defined period of time. This is often done as part of M&A transactions, where a company is buying a subsidiary of another company, and doesn't want the seller to just turn around and hire back key personnel. But those are limited in time. Also, the ones I've seen do not limit the ability to hire those people, only the ability to solicit them. So if the employee makes the first contact, all bets are off.

Another agreement I've seen often is as part of a M&A confidentiality agreement. Example: "You will provide us information about your company and access to key personnel in order to discuss a potential aquisition, in exchange, we agree not to solicit any of those employees for one year."

The eBay/Intuit agreement, however, is that they will not hire each others' employees for as long as the agreement remains in effect AND that it doesn't matter whether the employee approaches them first.

Re:Is this the same for "contractor" companies? (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | about a year and a half ago | (#42011845)

IBM has agreements like that with most contracting companies. Generally, the way around it is for IBM to pay a finder's fee to the contracting agency if IBM wants to hire the contractor as a regular employee. I've seen it done a few times. Not all contractors are amenable to it, but for those who are, it's a payment to their agency and then hiring can proceed as normal.

latin lessons (4, Informative)

_peter (54875) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009427)

per se -- in itself
prima facie -- on it's face

Re:latin lessons (1, Redundant)

acid brother (2775575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009497)

At least it wasn't "per say".

Unions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009473)

So when are unions going to be sued for lowering the labor available to companies by their anti-competitive agreements?

Re:Unions (3, Interesting)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010001)

You mean the agreements explicitly agreed to between union management and corporations? Or the agreements explicitly agreed to between union management and employees? As far as I know, with the exception below, union employees are free to leave their union and sign up, there's nothing legally stopping them (caveat: there are some social issues).

Trying to figure out which of these is as unethical as two people agreeing not to hire a third person without his consent.

There is one place I may see your point on: the existence of "closed shops". That definitely needs to be attacked (and is illegal in many places). There should never be a closed shop, everyone should have the right to apply for a job. If the union is doing ITS job, employees will pay their dues and join. If management is doing ITS job, employees have no need of a union.

Re:Unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010033)

> union employees are free to leave their union

And Ebay/Intuit were free to end their agreement at any time. What's your point? Do you think that the labor supply market cannot be monopolized by unions, or at least reduced per se by agreements?

Re:Unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42013225)

Labor unions are exempt from most antitrust laws.

Re:Unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42043287)

This -1 brought to you by the Brotherhood of Closed-Minded Moderators local #404.

Further reading... (5, Informative)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009575)

TFA is a little thin. For those of you just joining us (stares pointedly at Intuit and Ebay, with a glance at HP), it's called "collusion."

Collusion [wikipedia.org]
Collusion is an agreement between two or more persons, sometimes illegal and therefore secretive, to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading, or defrauding others of their legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically by defrauding or gaining an unfair advantage. It is an agreement among firms to divide the market, set prices, or limit production. It can involve "wage fixing, kickbacks, or misrepresenting the independence of the relationship between the colluding parties". In legal terms, all acts affected by collusion are considered void.

Collusion is largely illegal in the United States, Canada and most of the EU due to competition/antitrust law, but implicit collusion in the form of price leadership and tacit understandings still takes place.

Also known as the opposite of competition, or incompatible with a competitive environment, or simply "anti-competitive."

Re:Further reading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010065)

But..but...isn't this just way of "doing business" for Korporate America? Is the DOJ now going Commie on us?

Re:Further reading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010267)

More likely, eBay failed to bribe the right congresscritter. I'm sure they won't make the same mistake again.

Re:Further reading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42011399)

Also known as the opposite of competition, or incompatible with a competitive environment, or simply "anti-competitive."

So you're talking about the Cleveland Browns or the Jacksonville Jaguars?

captcha: bleeds

B B But... (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009593)

But I thought Meg was in favor of a free market! Just not for employees I suppose. Apparently what's good for the goose is not good for the gander.

Re:B B But... (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009861)

Maybe she meant "free to collude" rather than compete... after all they both start with 'c'. :)

Re:B B But... (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010005)

A free market just means the gov't doesn't intrude. I find most libertarians are only in favor of the freedoms they personally like. Heck, even RON PAUL (sorry, Fark meme) was billing the government for travel expenses that his private super pac was footing the bill for and which were probably not work related...

Re:B B But... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42011239)

It's socialism for the megacorporations, and capitalism and poverty for the rest of us. Except that that will tank the economy, and we will have a big reset. Hopefully people will have learnt how to properly identify the right criminals and do away with them by then.

Re:B B But... (2)

ultranova (717540) | about a year and a half ago | (#42011463)

I find most libertarians are only in favor of the freedoms they personally like.

All libertarians are only in favor of the freedoms they personally like, otherwise they'd be called anarchists (the state doesn't interfere with anything -> for all intents and purposes the state does not exist).

Also, at least on Slashdot libertarianism seems to mean a pro-corporate and anti-union position (corporations may collude, workers may not), so it's hard to avoid the conclusion that it's less about a coherent ideology and more about propaganda appealing to people's egos to get them to act against their own interests - after all, everyone is better than average at their job, the same way that everyone is better than average at driving, and would thus be "limited" by an union.

Re:B B But... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year and a half ago | (#42011841)

But I thought Meg was in favor of a free market!
Well, it seems that in a free market, you could walk in to either company and offer your services and be judged based on your skills and price and on their need. An agreement not to hire another companies employees is an illegal restriction of the free market. Unfortunately, 90% or more of companies do it. The company I work for does it. All of the vendors and suppliers have to sign agreements saying they will not hire from my company.

Intuit is a Veteran! (2)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009669)

Intuit was sued by the DOJ before for this, and along with Apple, Google, Intel and Pixar, reached a settlement with DOJ and agreed [findlaw.com] in 2010 to stop doing this. Of course, TFA says the collusion in question took place from 2006 to 2009, so I'm thinking they've already covered this. Unless they kept their collusion with eBay a secret at the time, so it's not covered by the settlement, and now DOJ is going to kick them in the pants for not coming clean about all of their illegal activities and partners. My guess is that now DOJ is going to be on a fishing expedition to find out what other collusion Intuit was hiding.

Re:Intuit is a Veteran! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009753)

I was lured to the Intuit complex off the 56 in San Diego by the promise of a Slashdot "15th anniversary party" which really only turned out to be one guerrilla marketer passing out T-shirts. I was also piss-drunk at the time (3pm on Sunday), but even in my extremely inebriated state I was frightened by the interior of the buildings - they were nice but had a cold, low-ceilinged, cramped and boxed-in feeling reminiscent of an inner-city high school or perhaps a mental institution or prison. They were the architectural equivalent of borg cubes.

It would be a perfect place to work for Mormons, Scientologists and lobotomy recipients. Fuck, I would rather flip burgers on an hourly wage than have to spend 8 or more hours per weekday in there.

-- Ethanol-fueled

p.s. Short guy with black hair, the fat chick I brought later told me that you were creepy.

Re:Intuit is a Veteran! (1)

t0rkm3 (666910) | about a year and a half ago | (#42012523)

LOL... I never worked in the main buildings, just in the data centers as a contractor for INS. I don't know about the cubes and whatnot, but the beer grill out parties on Thursday nights were well catered. (The best beer available was Heineken though)

Re:Intuit is a Veteran! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016115)

The best beer available was Heineken...

FWIW, that's the CEO's favorite.

McGruber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009675)

BOOM!

Sounds like illegal TS/SCI Human Control System (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009859)

Sounds more like how the US uses the Special Compartmentalized information Compartment
HCS - Human Control System to enslave ppl (illegal thus can not legally be classified)

Points to "Real" hackers not some false authorities or fake slashdot clowns

Work for the US or not work at all
This Slavery ended up with the massive leak of information LEGALLY of $76 trillion dollars of information
That is fatal to the US basically everything is now free to the world

That is the cost of freedom
You wanted slavery so bad then you can be one...

Re:Sounds like illegal TS/SCI Human Control System (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010577)

What in the dissociative ungainly fuck did i just read.

I live in Silicon Valley (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009893)

I am here to inform you that eBay and Intuit are the only employers in town.

Re:I live in Silicon Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42009991)

I'm guessing this was supposed to be funny and insightful, but it isn't.

Re:I live in Silicon Valley (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010045)

It's only funny and insightful if "Paul" works for both Intuit and eBay writing the verbiage for anti-competitive agreements.

Re:I live in Silicon Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42012673)

You changed from passive voice to active voice mid-sentence.

Re:I live in Silicon Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42015111)

You stayed a dickhead throughout your sentence. Well played.

Re:I live in Silicon Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42017315)

You're an asshole. I would say "well played," but you're just being you.

Um... wtf? (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year and a half ago | (#42009999)

I guess it's kinda nice to see the justice department doing something that'll help, but compared to H1-B this isn't even a itty, bitty itsy bitsy drop in the worlds smallest bucket. Still, it's nice to see the effect of a Democrat in the White house. He can't do much, but he's doing what he can.

I hope will also sue Ebay for stealing money (2)

iamjakob (2775711) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010179)

Ebay steals money from its sellers. I hope DOJ will take notice of this and sue Ebay. I know someone [pisika.com] who did nothing wrong but was accused by Ebay of doing something illegal. Consequently, they stole all the proceeds of his sale on Half.com

AT WILL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010299)

Only applys when it's in the companys favor. Not yours.

Just like pretty much everything else. One set of rules for us peons. No rules for those with the money to bribe, buy, lobby, etc...

This is news? (3, Interesting)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010339)

Where has the DOJ been? Oh that's right going after states who pass voter id laws all the while the AG grand stands and panders to ever special interest in the country instead of enforcing our laws. Now they can go after bigger fish and say "hey, lookie what we got right chere!" Yeah, you got two lame ducks. EBay and Intuit? Come on you may as well have gone after Hostess and Wonder Bread. Oh wait, Hostess is out of business now anyway, so they won't put up much of a fight with the DOJ.

American Airlines, IBM, HP (and the former EDS) and many others, all of them do this and now they're making a point out of EBay and Intuit? Wow, this seems like so 10 years ago when both of these entities mattered. The collusion is rampant and it's meant to keep wages low and remove options for people.

So here's how it'll play out, the DOG will go to court and lambaste these two titans of industry (I'm still laughing) They'll rail against these companies and make really good press for a couple of weeks. Then they'll reach a settlement deal and EBay and Intuit will pay a fine and say "we're sorry and won't do it again." Yeah right. As long as nobody gets caught and held truly accountable for this kind of crap, it will keep on happening

Then again you have a right to work wherever you want and they have a right to fire you whenever they want. It's the American way.

This makes no sense (4, Funny)

dadioflex (854298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010377)

I don't even see how there could be a conflict. One is an internet company and the other mainly hunts seals and whales for meat.

mod d0wn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010465)

to look int0 maggot, 7omit, shit the future holds

I'm confused (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010479)

I'm confused, is this different from non-competes? I thought non-competes where standard practice in a lot of area's of business. Sorry for my ignorance

Re:I'm confused (2)

Psychotria (953670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42010933)

I'm confused, is this different from non-competes? I thought non-competes where standard practice in a lot of area's of business. Sorry for my ignorance

And non-competes are generally illegal as well.

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42012809)

Yep unless you are just flat out sharing trade secrets or what amounts to corporate espionage the non competes are basically worth as much as toilet paper.

Re:I'm confused (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year and a half ago | (#42014193)

not enforceable I think your mean

As if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010651)

Take a course in game theory and at the end see if you think all companies don't signal each other wrt hiring, salary and advancement.

Now I know where all the confiscated cannabis goes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010739)

Straight to the creative fascism division of the (DOPJ.) Department of Prosecuting Justice

Before you blast furnace my non-asbestos completely exposed ass, lets see a raise of hands of how many think this is eBay's worst (financial, monetary, fraud) problems are with it's employees hiring?! How about a fucking number to call for help, an un-censored help forum. Jesus tits. Rot in hell you cocksucking commie retards

Yeah that fuckin DOPJ is intelligent motherfucking stock

Their activities currently are domestic terrorism. They hate truth, Justice, Liberty

When they finally come to my door with this bullshit, it's going to be WW3, You want a population of 500,000, I HELP GET YOUR ASS THERE YOU FUCKING PIECES OF SHIT

Re:Now I know where all the confiscated cannabis g (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42010765)

ALMOST FORGOT

paypal is a cocksucking ticking time bomb for sellers

Buyers got it made.

Had to be said.
There needs to be other ways to pay.
I like gold and silver like the constitution says, but the oath breakers currently outnumber the oath keepers.

MAY GOD HELP THEM, WHEN THIS SHIT FINALLY GETS REAL

What about joint ventures? (1)

tfocker4 (2750497) | about a year and a half ago | (#42011661)

My firm is in a joint venture with another, and they explicitly will not hire each others' employees while partnered. Anyone familiar with what the law says in such a case?

what about the human rights... (1)

wealthychef (584778) | about a year and a half ago | (#42012283)

... of corporations? I mean, now that companies are considered to be people, shouldn't their rights be weighed equally against those of their workers?

Totally unnecessary (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42013341)

By entering into such an agreement they are only hurting each other. The employees have plenty of other places to go.

It is in the interest of every company to be able to hire whomever best fits the need.

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