San Francisco - The U.S. Justice Department has launched an antitrust probe into the recruiting practices at technology firms including Google (NASD: GOOG), Yahoo (NASD: YHOO) and Apple (NASD: AAPL), The Washington Post reported, citing people with knowledge of the investigation. The reportedly "industry-wide" review is said to center on purported agreements between the companies not to hire away top talent from one another.
"This could be collusive restraint on trade, which could have a serious impact on competition," Albert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, told The Post.
In recent years, Microsoft has sued Google, and IBM has sued Apple for allegedly hiring away top employees; both suits were eventually settled out of court.
Some see the competitive practice of luring employees away from rivals as standard practice in Silicon Valley.
"Stealing employees from each other is a way of life for tech companies," wrote TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld.
"Silicon Valley is one of the most competitive employment markets in the country — for CEOs and VPS to engineers… Doesn’t [DOJ antitrust chief Christine Varney] have anything better to do?"