back to article Palm rejected Jobs's 'no poaching' Applers offer

Two years ago, Apple chief exec Steve Jobs suggested to Palm's then-CEO Ed Colligan that the two companies agree not to hire each other's employees. Colligan reportedly refused, saying such a deal would be "likely illegal". These revelations come in a report by Bloomberg on Thursday, less than two weeks after a similar agreement …

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No Poaching indeed

Seriously folks, our government and corporations have structured the system to make indentured servants out of engineering and tech workers. Employers are no longer constrained to compete for talent, they just whine to Congress, and they gen up thousands of new Visa's and allow these companies to pick from those willing to work for the least money. No one in this scenario has clean hands, and American workers will continue to suffer and be restrained in seeking employment so long as we tolerate our own government providing a "low cost alternative" to hiring and retaining American workers. At one time in our history, even high tech firms trained and educated even entry level employee's. These were the aspirational jobs that motivated the mail room clearks and drone workers to try harder, to be better. Today, I often see teenagers with more computer skills and savvy than many of the "multi-degreed" imports, but apparently, it's not in corporate America's best financial interests to nurture and sponsor our own domestic talent. Like it or not folks, too many people competing for the same limited resources is not sane, sustainable social, economic, or environmental policy. The manufacturers and employers who recognize this first will be positioned to take advantage of future opportunities that remain.

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@edweird

I'm amazed this is not obviously illegal in the US... this is entirely illegal in the EU (Bosman ruling - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosman_ruling).

I wonder how may TCS, Infosys et. al. employees (or ex-employees) work at Apple and Palm. There are a vast number of very qualified staff from Asia available. Of course, if it's trade secrets that the companies are after...

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@edweird

No problem, just give them citizenship after you've 'imported' them and they'll BE Americans!

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Jobs Horns

Jobs for Steve

Dirty boy, DIRTY BOY !

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So what?

Not sure I understand why an agreement not to poach staff from each other would be illegal if worded sensibly. All you have to do is agree not to 'deliberately' poach, or headhunt. As long as you didn't say you would refuse employment to someone based on who they've worked with in the past, you aren't breaking any laws. Agreements between companies are not illegal as long as you don't collaborate on product price, something that's difficult to prove apparently, given the remarkable similarity in the price of oil, gas and petrol sold by multiple oil corporates.

Oh and hiring via immigrant visa when there are local people qualified to do the job is illegal in the US and that isn't the way they do it. The way you illegally hire cheap foreign labour is to 'train' employees in company culture and procedures - and where better to do that than at your company headquarters in the US? The fact you were coincidentally forced to lay off the exact same number of employees because of market factors in the US is seldom investigated due to .. well I'm sure it has nothing to do with political contributions or backhanders.

When you can produce plausible explanations you'll get away with it, even if they are outright lies, because the burden of proof still lies with those doing the investigating and prosecuting.

Still there are strict limits to all kinds of visas and in reality the likelihood of an educated person losing his or her job to an immigrant is very small. Unless you decided to abandon your IT job because you really enjoy cleaning hotel rooms, picking fruit, landscaping gardens or building cheap houses. No this is where the infamous off-shoring comes into it and most Americans who lost their IT jobs to foreign workers did so because their companies went the significantly less dodgy route of moving their operations overseas.

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Did you just say...

that Apple would be "Pre-occupied" with DOJ questions?

TheReg is my favorite source of puns.

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Legalities

I may be wrong here, but to the best of my knowledge it's entirely legal in the UK to put into an employee's contract of employment the provision that if they leave the business, they are not permitted to work in a similar role for a direct competitor for a set period, say 12 months. This is only generally used for fairly senior people with key commercial/competitive knowledge, and clearly there are issues around enforcing it, but neverthless this is how it's tackled over here. I believe there are (or were) similar legal provisions around small businesses - if someone leaves, say, a hairdresser's, and tries to start a directly-competing salon just across the street. Fortunately I've never been in a position to be affected by either of these (you *really* wouldn't want to get a haircut from me!).

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Astonishing

Jobs and Apple engaged in anti-competitive practices of a highly dubious legal status?

How VERY dare you!

Now go and wash your mouth out with soap and water.

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Anonymous Coward

UK perspective

I see the comment above about the EU stance on this, but a former employer of mine is ensuring that people cannot be poached to a particular other company, under threat of legal action.

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Boffin

When has legality ever stopped Apple?

Inquiring minds want to know. It's clear that Apple thinks it is exempt from US anti-trust laws, or should be. Just look at their EULAS or their merchant agreements that prevent discount sales of Apple products.

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@Andy Bright

Go back. Re-read. Then comment. The artical was about companys refusing to hire ANY staff, not just head hunting.

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ASG

@Tom Cooke

Quite right.

When I left an employer in 2007 I was reminded of that clause in my contract - it went further though - I needed their permission to work for a customer or competitor for 12 months after leaving them.

My solicitor advised me that this would probably be upheld by the court / employment tribunal, depending on exact circumstances.

ISTR the Reg running some comments on this issue a few years back.

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Meh

This is pretty standard. I worked for a company in a very specialized market (pharma/medical electronic publishing) with only about four or five companies in it. There was a 'gentleman's agreement' not to poach the other company's employees. Now, we were certainly free to apply for a job at the competitor's. We and the competitors were certainly free to advertise for people to fill a need. And given that two of the companies are based in the same town, there was some movement between people.

But actively poaching? That would have meant that the other companies would have started poaching your people.

So if Company X and Company Y, in the same industry, agree not to poach, this is not news. In fact, it makes complete sense. The employees aren't forbidding from moving, they aren't (or at least shouldn't be) bullied.

I think journalists, particularly those from a print background, don't get this, partly because most cities in the US have only one newspaper. Radio and TV people don't get as worked up about it, and unsurprisingly they have options within their own town. Go figure.

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One thing we can all be grateful for

One thing we can all be grateful to Bill Gates for is that's he's kept Steve Jobs from being the monopolist. It almost makes up for inflicting Ballmer on the world, but then Ballmer does provide comic relief.

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@So what? - Andy Bright

sorry Andy but at least over here (UK) I've been in plenty of situations where foreign tech staff (mostly from India) have been brought over - often on rotating contacts where each sub team staid in the country for say 6 months - went back to India for 6 months - and so on... of course the UK staff had the great honour of knowledge transfer. so off-shoring doesn't always mean sending jobs oversees. technically the original company was losing the contract to the likes of Mphasis/Cognizant/etc but big Western tech companies often have major shareholdings in those companies anyway. but hay, people have been talking of helping the "third world" - off shoring has worked better than any form of charity.

anyway, this is clearly a restraint of trade - a lot of high end tech jobs are highly specialised and working for a competitor can be the only assurance of being able to work in the same technology/getting a fair wage for your skills.

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Jobs Horns

Sad how very sad

If you guys get to see my other comments. You'd know how I feel about government, however, I'll say this I generally expect better from private corporation. I guess, they are on in same.

I'll be buying a new laptop soon. I was thinking about Mac notebook, I don't feel like it anymore.

I hate Jobs, and Ballmar.

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