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Google, DOJ Settle Antitrust Probe Over Hiring Practices

Danny Goodwin
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The U.S. Department of Justice has settled with Google and five other technology companies, requiring them to no longer engage in anti-competitive "no solicitation" agreements. The DOJ's investigation began last year, with the goal of determining whether several tech companies -- including Google, Adobe, Apple, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar -- broke antitrust law by colluding on hiring practices. Yahoo and Microsoft were also interviewed during the investigation.

According to the complaint:

...the six companies entered into agreements that restrained competition between them for highly skilled employees. The agreements between Apple and Google, Apple and Adobe, Apple and Pixar and Google and Intel prevented the companies from directly soliciting each other's employees. An agreement between Google and Intuit prevented Google from directly soliciting Intuit employees.

According to the DOJ's complaint regarding Google's practices:

  • Beginning no later than 2006, Apple and Google executives agreed not to cold call each other's employees. Apple placed Google on its internal "Do Not Call List," which instructed employees not to directly solicit employees from the listed companies. Similarly, Google listed Apple among the companies that had special agreements with Google and were part of the "Do Not Cold Call" list.
  • Beginning no later than September 2007, Google and Intel executives agreed not to cold call each other's employees. In its hiring policies and protocol manual, Google listed Intel among the companies that have special agreements with Google and are part of the "Do Not Cold Call" list. Similarly, Intel instructed its human resources staff about the existence of the agreement.
  • In June 2007, Google and Intuit executives agreed that Google would not cold call any Intuit employee. In its hiring policies and protocol manual, Google also listed Intuit among the companies that have special agreements with Google and are part of the "Do Not Cold Call" list.

Google responded to the settlement Friday on their Public Policy Blog, writing:

"In order to maintain a good working relationship with these companies, in 2005 we decided not to "cold call" employees at a few of our partner companies. Our policy only impacted cold calling, and we continued to recruit from these companies through LinkedIn, job fairs, employee referrals, or when candidates approached Google directly. In fact, we hired hundreds of employees from the companies involved during this time period.

"While there's no evidence that our policy hindered hiring or affected wages, we abandoned our "no cold calling" policy in late 2009 once the Justice Department raised concerns, and are happy to continue with this approach as part of this settlement."


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