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Do Employers Have The Right to Limit Opportunities for Their Employees

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The class action plaintiffs (more than 64,000 software engineers and other technical professionals, mostly in Silicon Valley) will now receive checks averaging around $5,000 (though individual amounts will actually vary widely). Problem is, they don’t deserve a penny of the windfall they’re about to receive.



I understand in a free market, employers have the right to hire and fire as they please. And I also understand that they would want to collude and try to avoid market rates raising above what's comfortable for them.
I agree that the checks plaintiffs will receive is not earned.
But, if you think this is ethically OK, isn't it at all dishonest towards the employees?
(I am uncertain, and genuinely curious. But...)
But I do think each individual plaintiff should pause, before depositing his antitrust windfall, and ask whether they really deserve a paycheck from companies that chose not to recruit them.



I don't agree with this. Plaintiffs are acting for their self interests. In a health-care society where private practice is strictly prohibited, are you supposed to refuse treatment and die?
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While it should be legal, the typical leading-edge software product company should try to be the place where everyone wants to work, rather than relying on contracts and agreement to keep employees.

I have not looked into this case, but I remember reading that the agreement was specifically about not cold-calling each other's employees. I can see that these companies recognized that after tempting N employees to shift in either direction, neither company was really better off. It is not just about keeping wages down. It is about reducing a churn that leaves all companies with pretty much the same level of employees. So, I can see the point of some type of restraint, but not a blanket ban on hiring each other's employees.

I have seen other contexts where it made sense for companies to agree to other types of limits on hiring each other's programmers, and where such agreements made sense. [e.g. not to hire anyone whose project is just a few month away from the final delivery date.]


Whatever the case, I think companies should be open with their employees about the ground rules.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Antitrust laws are simply wrong.


Employers trying to gain collective bargaining power by voluntarily associating with each other is as perfectly permissible in a free society as employees trying to gain collective bargaining power by voluntarily associating with each other.  The actual effect of taking this route rather than direct and open trade needs to be evaluated in context.


Certainly the best employees will be gotten by offering the best remuneration/packages, and the best employers will be gotten by offering the best services/performance, which, I submit is less hampered by avoiding being bound by rules of a group or association.


In any relationship, trust and openness has its costs and benefits.  Self-interest requires judicious understanding of how the presence or lack thereof affects the relationship and hence the potential benefits.  Companies or employees who get a reputation for hiding things... well they don't win in the employee-employer market as against those with good reputations.

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