The Department of Justice filed its lawsuit on Friday and settled the same day with Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., Intuit Inc. and Pixar.
The complaint alleged that the companies entered into agreements not to poach employees from each other. These agreements, the complaint claims, limited competition for highly skilled employees.
"The agreements challenged here restrained competition for affected employees without any procompetitive justification and distorted the competitive process," said Molly S. Boast, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, in a statement. "The proposed settlement resolves the department's antitrust concerns with regard to these no-solicitation agreements."
The agreements are said to have existed between Apple and Google, Apple and Adobe, Apple and Pixar, Google and Intel, and Google and Intuit.
Google acknowledged the existence of such agreements in a blog post on Friday.
"In order to maintain a good working relationship with these companies, in 2005 we decided not to 'cold call' employees at a few of our partner companies," said Amy Lambert, Associate General Counsel for Google. "Our policy only impacted cold calling, and we continued to recruit from these companies through LinkedIn, job fairs, employee referrals, or when candidates approached Google directly."
Google claims that its policy did not affect wages and that it ceased the practice in 2009 following inquiries from the Department of Justice.
The settlement, which must be approved by the court, calls for a five-year moratorium on no-solicitation agreements.