EBay, Intuit accused of hiring collusion

Nov. 18, 2012 at 1:45 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Justice and California officials have accused eBay and Intuit of engaging in anti-competitive practices by agreeing not to hire each other's employees.

The federal and state officials both went to court against eBay Friday, The Hill reported. The Justice Department said it isn't going after Intuit because the company was part of a 2010 settlement that also included Apple, Google, Intel and Pixar, the Washington publication said.

"EBay's agreement with Intuit hurt employees by lowering the salaries and benefits they might have received and deprived them of better job opportunities at the other company," Joseph Wayland, head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, said in a statement.

The federal government contends that while Meg Whitman was chief executive officer of eBay she and Intuit founder Scott Cook were "intimately involved in forming, monitoring and enforcing the anti-competitive agreement."

Whitman is now Hewlett-Packard's CEO.

EBay responded by saying it would "vigorously defend itself," The Hill said.

"EBay Inc. strongly believes that the Department of Justice and California attorney general are wrong and are using the wrong standard in these matters," eBay spokeswoman Lara Wyss said.

"We compete openly for talent in a broad, diverse global market across a range of industries and professional disciplines, and eBay's hiring practices conform to the standards that the Department of Justice has approved in resolving cases against other companies. The DOJ and state attorney general are taking an overly aggressive interpretation in their enforcement of antitrust law in this area."

The companies' anti-poaching agreement is alleged to have started in 2006 and continued at least into 2009, the government officials contend.

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