EBay settles with U.S. over deal to not poach employees

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WASHINGTON – The online commerce company eBay Inc has agreed refrain making deals with other technology companies not poach each others’ employees and by doing so limit workers’ access better , U.. authorities said on Thursday.

EBay had been accused by the Justice Department of reaching an agreement with Intuit Inc, a software company best known for its tax preparation programs, not recruit each other.

“EBay’ agreement with Intuit served no purpose but to limit competition between the two firms for employees, distorting the labor market and causing employees to lose for better and higher pay,” said Baer, assistant attorney general for antitrust at the U.. Department of Justice.

The lawsuit, and similar legal issues involving other technology companies, highlight the intense competition for talent Silicon Valley.

this case, eBay and Intuit reached a “handshake” agreement 2006 involving executives including then-eBay chief Meg Whitman and Intuit founder Scott Cook, according to documents. At the time Cook, who serving on eBay’s board, complained about eBay poaching Intuit employees. Whitman is now chief at Hewlett-Packard Co.

Federal and state antitrust regulators sued eBay 2012.

Intuit not named as a defendant because already part of a wide-ranging 2010 lawsuit federal officials brought against six technology companies, including Apple and . Those companies settled.

California also settled on Thursday with eBay, which agreed to pay the state $3.75 million to compensate people who were hurt by the no-poach agreements, among other costs.

EBay admitted no wrongdoing. said in a believed “the policy prompted this lawsuit acceptable and legal, and led to no anticompetitive effects in the talent market in which eBay competed.”

“EBay competes aggressively to attract and retain the best talent, while conforming to the hiring practices standards established by the Department of Justice in prior hiring-related against other companies,” the company added in the .

Asked about the eBay it broke no laws, Baer told reporters: “We have no doubt this was problematic conduct violated the antitrust laws.” (Reuters)