California Judge Lucy Koh recently ordered Apple chief executive Tim Cook to four hours of questioning in relation to an anti-poaching case leveled against five large tech companies. According to reports from Reuters
, the anti-poaching case involves five former employees of tech industry heavyweights Apple, Google, Intel and others, who ended up filing a civil suit alleging the companies illegally instituted anti-poaching measures.
Judge Koh recently said that internal emails showed unnamed company executives reached a consensus that an agreement to not poach each other’s workers would end up amounting to financial gains. The jurist explained that top executives agreed on an approach to hiring employees collectively would end up being more beneficial as opposed to negotiating with individual workers.
What’s being currently decided is whether the suit should be classified as a class action, although Judge Koh has yet to issue a ruling on this matter. As for the civil suit, attorneys representing the five plaintiffs estimated damages could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Apple counsel argued that Cook wasn’t involved in the anti-poaching allegations as he was the company’s chief operating officer at the time, but Judge Koh said he will still be subject to a deposition. Koh said the following regarding the situation: “I find it hard to believe a COO would have no say over salary and compensation for all employees.”
Cook isn’t the only one being questioned either, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt will also be questioned on February 20, while top ranking officials from the other defendants, including Intel’s Paul Otellini, are also slated to take part in upcoming depositions.
Apple along with six other defendants attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed in April 2012, but Judge Koh refused, citing a high probability of collusion. As a result of the suit, the email Jobs sent to Google’s Schmidt in 2007 came to light, asking the executive to stop poaching his employees. It was discovered in 2009 that Apple and Google had an unofficial agreement to not poach each other’s employees a deal that resulted in a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust investigation. Apple, Google, Pixar, Intel, Adobe and Intuit all agreed to a settlement in 2010 that blocked the companies from any further anti-poaching deals.