Is it Legal to Poach a Competitor’s Employees?

staff-poaching-picThere have been a lot of news lately of top executives in Silicon Valley jumping ship to work with company rivals.

The fact is that competition for talent is fierce in most high-stakes industries with limited employee pools, causing companies to go above and beyond normal recruiting methods. But the question remains: Is employee poaching actually legal?

In the grand scheme of things, employee poaching is legal. But given a specific set of facts, it may actually cost you a large sum of money.

Last year, the Department of Justice investigated a report that Apple, Intel, Google, Pixar, Intuit and Adobe had instituted an anti-poaching agreement amongst themselves in which they agreed to refrain from cold-calling and attempting to recruit one another’s employees.

The Department determined that the anti-poaching agreement restricted competition for workers within the industry, and was therefore anti-competitive and illegal under federal antitrust laws.

If poaching were per se illegal, the DOJ would have let the contract stand.

However, the fact still remains that employee poaching is only legal when done properly.

Under state unfair competition laws or specific statutes, employee poaching may actually amount to tortious interference with business (contractual) relations. This occurs when a company intentionally causes another to breach his employment contract.

State law varies, but you may be on the hook for tortious interference if your employee poaching tactics include wrongful allegations, a blatant disregard for non-compete agreements, or acting in an illegal manner.

So while there are no anti-poaching laws, do yourself a favor and be careful.

[Content taken from original article appearing on Findlaw September 2016]

Interesting Lawsuit of the Month: Federal Judge Puts Another Ridiculous Starbucks Lawsuit On Ice

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In one case, plaintiffs claim their Starbucks lattes contained a quarter inch of steamed milk instead of coffee. In another case, a Chicago-area woman is suing the company for putting too much ice in — you guessed it — the iced coffee.

Believe it or not — there was a third lawsuit that was recently filed against Starbucks.

Similar to the Chicago lawsuit, this third lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles resident Alexander Forouzesh, claimed that Starbucks was deceiving customers about just how much ice and how much liquid were in the coffee chain’s iced drinks.

The suit, however, received a chilly reception from U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson, who dismissed the case after he “ridiculed the plaintiffs and their lawyers” for bringing the suit before the court in the first place.

In dismissing the class action claim, Judge Anderson pointed out the obvious, that “if children have figured out that including ice in a cold beverage decreases the amount of liquid they will receive, the Court has no difficulty concluding that a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into thinking that when they order an iced tea, that the drink they receive will include both ice and tea and that for a given size cup, some portion of the drink will be ice rather than whatever liquid beverage the consumer ordered.”

Although the case was dismissed, Starbucks still had to expend financial resources to fight the case in court — as they will have to do with the similar “too much ice” lawsuit that is still pending in Illinois.

Quote of the Month

“Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.”
Ryan Holiday, Ego Is the Enemy

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