The US Justice Department's antitrust investigation of the recruitment pacts made between IT companies such as Google, Yahoo and Apple could set a precedent that will be difficult to uphold.
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The department is investigating allegations that the companies have agreed not to poach workers from each other, which could be anti-competitive. The practice limits workers' opportunities for promotion and helps companies retain their market dominance.
One recruitment consultant in the US said these practices benefit the employer and not the employee. "But if the justice department follows through and they are breaking antitrust laws it sets a dangerous precedent," she added. "There are hundreds of industries that have a gentlemen's hands-off agreement that they won't steal staff. The justice department better be ready to go after all of them."
She said these companies value their employees very highly and invest heavily in their development. "[By keeping staff] they are actually practicing what most companies simply give lip service to when they say 'our employees are our most valued asset.'"
She said these gentlemen's agreements inhibit career growth for the employee, keep salaries down, decrease hiring expenses, eliminate non-compete lawsuits and reduce IP lawsuits.