U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh wants to see Google’s Eric Schmidt, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Intel’s Paul Otellini in her office. Or courtroom, rather.She’s ordered each corporate chieftain to appear for four hours to question them about a no-poaching agreement the three tech companies allegedly made.
Employees say the three made a verbal pact to not steal each other’s workers, and that it has “unfairly reduced their income,” The argument is that by agreeing not to compete for each other’s employees, the companies could pay lower wages and still retain them.
If the case is granted class-action status, the damages could be high. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say it could cost the companies hundreds of millions, and apparently they have some damning evidence up their sleeves.
AllThingsD says it has obtained an email from Google HR that says, “Google has an agreement with Apple that we will not cold call their staff.” There’s also apparently an email from Steve Jobs to Eric Schmidt—then Google’s CEO, now Google’s executive chairman—that asks Google to kindly stop reaching out to Apple employees. Schmidt was on Apple’s board at the time.
An Apple lawyer argued that Cook was not involved in these discussions, since he wasn’t CEO at the time. Judge Koh didn’t buy that, pointing out that he was Apple’s COO, with heavy involvement in HR decisions.