Facebook Depositions Expected In Silicon Valley Antitrust Case

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), may be subject to a deposition hearing in a lawsuit against several prominent companies that alleges the firms broke antitrust laws by agreeing not to hire from each other.

U.S. District Judge Lucy  Koh — who is also overseeing the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) debacle — ruled to allow a deposition later this month. The defendants include Intuit Inc (NASDAQ:INTU), Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Pixar and Lucasfilm units, Apple, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) and Sandberg’s former employer, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Neither Facebook or Sandberg are defendants in the case.

Plaintiffs argue their discovery has confirmed that senior officers at the companies personally entered into non-solicitation agreements to eliminate competition for each other’s employees, kept the pacts hidden from the workers, supervised the implementation of the plans and policed each other, Bloomberg said. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs urged Judge Koh to allow them a deposition after a March 29 deadline, because Sandberg and Facebook did not respond to an earlier subpoena.

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The case mirrors claims the companies settled with the U.S. Justice Department in 2010 after the government alleged that the companies kept do-not-call lists to avoid competitive recruiting. Such agreements supposedly restrained competition, which in turn hurt employees, according to Bloomberg.

Google has produced six documents consisting of 13 pages on Sandberg’s employment agreement for use in the case. Both sides are now waiting for Judge Koh to rule whether the case will proceed as a group lawsuit, with a proposed class of employees including engineers, sous chefs, administrative assistants and others.

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