The Justice Department announced a settlement Wednesday with eBay, likely resolving a two-year antitrust case targeting the Silicon Valley giant’s “no-poach” personnel agreement with a competitor.
The settlement is part of a backlash against major tech firms that have agreed to keep their hands off one another’s employees. The practice stymies competition and drives down wages for coveted workers from the technology sector.
In a 2012 lawsuit, the government alleged that executives at eBay and the tech firm Intuit entered into an agreement years earlier that barred the two from recruiting each other’s employees. The deal prohibited eBay from hiring even those Intuit workers that who eBay for a job.
“EBay’s 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 opportunities for better jobs and higher pay,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer, who runs the Justice Department’s antitrust division.
A federal court must still approve the settlement, before it is official. Under the arrangement, eBay would be barred from entering any agreements relating to employee hiring and retention for five years.
The settlement would block the firm from taking part in any agreement “that in any way prevents any person from soliciting, cold calling, recruiting, hiring or otherwise competing for employees.”
Separately, the California attorney general’s office also filed a settlement with e-Bay over the same allegations.
The apparent resolution follows a reported settlement last month between four leading tech firms, Adobe, Apple, Intel and Google, and 64,000 engineers who brought a class action suit against the companies for similar no-poach tactics.