Justice Department sues eBay over agreement not to hire Intuit employees

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Whitman, a Republican, is currently the CEO of Hewlett-Packard and lost her bid for the governorship of California in 2010.

Kamala Harris, California's Democratic attorney general, conducted a parallel investigation and filed her own lawsuit against eBay on Friday.

In a statement, eBay vowed to "vigorously defend itself." 

“eBay Inc. strongly believes that the Department of Justice and California Attorney General are wrong and are using the wrong standard in these matters," said Lara Wyss, an eBay spokeswoman. 

"We compete openly for talent in a broad, diverse global market across a range of industries and professional disciplines, and eBay’s hiring practices conform to the standards that the Department of Justice has approved in resolving cases against other companies. The DOJ and State Attorney General are taking an overly aggressive interpretation in their enforcement of antitrust law in this area," she said.

According to the Justice Department, Inuit and eBay executives made an informal agreement in 2006 not to recruit each other's employees, and for at least a year, eBay agreed not to hire Intuit employees at all, even those that approached eBay for a job.

Ebay's recruiters were told to throw away resumes from any Intuit employees, the Justice Department said.

The agreement lasted until at least 2009, according to court papers.

Justice Department officials said they did not name Intuit in the complaint because the company was already involved in a separate lawsuit and settlement in 2010 that also included Apple, Google, Intel and Pixar. Because of that case, Intel is prohibited from making any agreements that restrict competitors' ability to hire employees.

—Updated at 5:27 p.m. to include a comment from eBay