LG, Samsung under anti-poaching scrutiny in three separate lawsuits

By Kerry Goff | Nov 9, 2016

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) — In the most recent of three class action lawsuits filed by different plaintiffs attorneys, a California man alleges LG Corp. and Samsung Group engaged in an agreement with each other to provide fixed compensation to their employees to avoid competition.

One lawsuit, filed by Andrew Amirnovin in California federal court, also alleges the companies are committing unfair competition and are in violation of state and federal law, as stated in the Sherman Act, to deliberately keep salaries low.

Amirnovin claimed he suffered financial damages from not having equal job opportunities. He alleged that Samsung and LG conspired against their employees to employ them without providing a salary increase or better job opportunities.

Amirnovin, a former engineer for LG, alleged the anti-poaching agreement is anticompetitive because it harms LG and Samsung employees. The official complaint explained the issues Amirnovin had against the companies’ alleged agreement.

“LG and Samsung have a long-standing agreement — reached at the highest levels of the company’s corporate hierarchy — not to solicit or hire one another’s workers,” the lawsuit said. “This policy extends to all LG and Samsung affiliates, and to all of the companies’ United States workers.”

The suit further argues that imposing restrictions on employee mobility deprives them of better job opportunities at the other company.

This suit is similar to a Sept. 9 lawsuit that also claimed Samsung and LG allegedly engaged in an unlawful conspiracy to fix and suppress compensation for their employees.

According to that suit, a plaintiff identified as A. Frost accused the two companies of antitrust violations by agreeing to an anti-poaching deal involving each other’s U.S. employees. Frost recently filed an amended complaint.

Frost’s suit alleged that Samsung and LG executives were aware of the anti-poaching agreement, according to the official complaint.

According to Frost, a recruiter reached out to him via LinkedIn in 2013, asking him to consider filling a position at Samsung. That recruiter then followed up with another message the same day, the court document said.

“I made a mistake! I’m not supposed to poach LG for Samsung! Sorry! The two companies have an agreement that they won’t steal each other’s employees,” the message allegedly said.

A third suit with similar claims was filed by former LG treasury manager Jose Ra, a New York resident who worked for LG out of New Jersey. The lawsuit has been noted as "related" to Frost's.

Ra alleged that LG and Samsung engaged in a conspiracy by agreeing not to recruit or directly hire the other company’s U.S. employees, which unlawfully reduced salary competition between the rival Korean electronics giants.

Ra also said that while he was still working for LG in 2013, he reached out to Samsung to inquire about a finance department position and received an email explaining that Samsung cannot hire people from LG.

All three suits bring antitrust claims under the Sherman Act, California’s Cartwright Act and the New Jersey Antitrust Act, as well as various claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law and state business laws.

Frost is represented by Berger & Montague in Philadelphia; Heins, Mills & Olson in Minneapolis; and Joseph Saveri Law Firm in San Francisco.

Ra is represented by Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy in Burlingame, Calif.

And Amirnovin is represented by Stueve Siegel Hanson in San Diego.

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