This week eBay announced that it has agreed to a settlement with the United States Department of Justice, and the Attorney General of California, regarding a non-hire agreement with Intuit. The settlement will include the company paying out $3.75 million to cover compensation to impacted employees, along with various fees and costs.
The settlement will need court approval before it is final. eBay is the opposite of contrite: “eBay continues to believe that the policy that prompted this lawsuit was acceptable and legal, and led to no anticompetitive effects in the talent market in which eBay competed.”
Apple, Google, and two other technology companies recently reached a $324 million settlement with 64,000 workers who were harmed by similar no-hire agreements in which large tech companies refused to hire from each other. This, naturally, distorted the market, rebalancing it in their favor, and lowering labor costs inside the industry.
Labor costs are what employees call salary.
According to Bloomberg, we’re all done: “Bill Baer, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said his office doesn’t have any other active investigations into recruitment practices by companies.” Other suits could crop up. The companies in question weren’t even given the financial equivalent of a haircut for their misdeeds.
Baer agrees, ironically: “The behavior here was blatant and egregious. Part of what we’ve done here is make it abundantly clear to high-tech companies that the antitrust laws apply to them. You can’t innovate your way around the antitrust laws.”
You can, though, innovate your way out of paying material, impactful fines.