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Seagate To Pay Former Worker $1.9M For Phantom Job

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the we're-glad-you-came dept.

The Almighty Buck 354

Lucas123 writes "The jury in a Minnesota-based wrongful employment case delivered a verdict ordering disk-drive manufacturer Seagate to pay $1.9 million to a former employee who uprooted his family and career at Texas Instruments in Dallas to move to Minnesota for a job that did not exist. The man was supposed to be developing solid state drive technology for Seagate but was laid off months later. 'The reason that was given is that he was hired to be a yield engineer but the project never came to fruition,' the former employee's attorney said. 'They didn't care what effect it had on his career.'"

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rimshot (5, Funny)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326192)

So you're saying Seagate's HR department doesn't have good TRIM support?

Just shows how far HR is from people doing the rea (4, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326232)

Just shows how far HR is from people doing the real work.

And that's why you see stuff like need 5 years for low level jobs as well as the need B.S / PHD for lot's of tech jobs that don't need one.

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326540)

They can require this because they can with today's labor market. SOmeone with 5 years knows more and is more productive than a fresh grad out of ITT or someone who can't hold onto a job for more than 6 months.

vwhat better 2 year degrees + real world work or 4 (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326888)

whats better 2 year degree + 1-2+ years real world work or 4 year degree with little real world work?

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (5, Insightful)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326542)

There is a job listed as 'computer tech' that requires
  • Cisco, HP, & Dell router experience
  • Apache, ms-sql, and a few other types of server software
  • HTML, XML, Java, Tomcat, Drupal, RUBY, Javascript, .net, SQL

The list goes on with the only thing missing being actual experience with PCs, printers, and Office suites, which is what the job description is all about.

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (3, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326766)

Yeah. Just the other day I saw a job advertised where experience with Windows Vista was required to get the job, but nothing was said about being expected to work with Vista.

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (4, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327126)

Yeah. Just the other day I saw a job advertised where experience with Windows Vista was required to get the job, but nothing was said about being expected to work with Vista.

That's just a check to make sure the applicant is a glutton for punishment...

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327018)

Sounds like they already have the perfect candidate in mind from India on an H1B. They simply take his resume and adjust the requirements to match it so that no-one else will be able to qualify.

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (2, Informative)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326556)

Sometimes I think the BS B.S. requirements are just to thin the applicant pool a little. You might miss out on some quality people, but it gives you an early short list. It's not feasible to interview every single person, especially for some low-level job. There's always some arbitrary line in the sand used to cull the pack. Why should a non-necessary degree requirement be any different than tossing any resume that has some minor grammatical error?

If you or anyone else has a better system, I'd love to hear it. After seeing the results of the current hiring policy, anything would be better.

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (5, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326716)

the BS B.S. requirements are just to thin the applicant pool a little.

Careful though, if the job requirements are too bullshit what you are doing is excluding the people who don't bullshit (and actually bother to read the job requirements)

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (1, Redundant)

Marful (861873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326784)

Aren't a lot of the bullshit requirements intended to justify H-1B visas?

I thought in order to qualify for H-1B, you had to first advertise in the local area and if you can't find people then you can apply for H-1B's (which you can then change the requirements).

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (1)

phoebus1553 (522577) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326668)

Plenty of times it's not even HR. My 'former' employer's head of IT put together a job posting once that *required* a CCIE for a normal grade network admin job and then offered to pay like $70k (top end), which in my locale is respectable money, but definately not for a CCIE . Anybody that would have fit either end of that spectrum would have been scared off by the other.

*disclaimer - everyone 'in' IT knew that the upper managers were in the good ol' boys club with the owner, and couldn't IT their way out of a wet paper bag, they were just in it for the ego. Just illustrating the "hr isn't the only bastion of suck" point.

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (4, Funny)

PRMan (959735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326998)

My favorite:

* Requires 10 years of C# experience

(The .NET Framework was created in 2002.)

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327058)

Actually, no.. it was *released* in 2002. There were 2 years of very public previews and betas (that most people ignored because MS was so intent on marketing web services).

Re:Just shows how far HR is from people doing the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34327160)

How exactly do you get experience on a product that hasn't been finalized or put into production, dumbass?

Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326208)

I love how the tech industry somehow thinks they can get away with this kind of BS. Ridiculous.

Re:Judgment warranted (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326222)

>> Ridiculous

Rediculous. FTFY

Re:Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326392)

Ridiculous. FTFY.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ridiculous [wiktionary.org]

Re:Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326428)

No no no, it's so ridiculous it's diculous all over again! Hence, re-diculous.

Re:Judgment warranted (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326462)

Wrong. Same AC here. My iPad says it's Rediculous. So your wrong.

Re:Judgment warranted (1)

Oldstench (1180217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326544)

*You're*. FTFY.

Re:Judgment warranted (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326628)

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Re:Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326690)

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE [imgur.com]

Re:Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326678)

Wrong. Same AC here. My iPad says it's Rediculous. So your wrong.

No, sir, I believe this wrong belongs to you.

Re:Judgment warranted (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326746)

You're thinking of bluediculous.

Re:Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326960)

No, it's just that sometimes diculousing once isn't enough and you have to do it again.

Re:Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34327086)

Is that when you get blue balls for too long?

Re:Judgment warranted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326434)

'They didn't care what effect it had on his career.'"

They also don't care about a piddly $1.9mil judgment.

Re:Judgment warranted (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326706)

Which is why judgements should be a percentage of gross profits, with each consecutive conviction for the same offense increasing that by 5% until the company is wiped out and its shareholders suffer massive losses.

Then they'd listen. Or move to China where you can practically grind your employees into hamburger and everybody cheers how you brought the bottom line up.

Liability (2, Interesting)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326228)

Neato. I'm curious to what extent they're liable though. Naturally if he just moves and is canned, there should be some liability, although rarely honoured, rough deal...

but.. 3 months, 6? a year?

If you move and work at a company two years, and they make you redundant... can you get some sort of pro-rated settlement on the 20 year career you were planning on having there?

Re:Liability (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326280)

It all depends on how greedy^H^H^H^H^H good your lawyer is.

Re:Liability (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326294)

Without the details of the employment contract, there isn't much to go off as far as a legal ruling.

The question however, is whether this kind of behavior should be allowed, even if the gentleman involved was foolish enough to move his family without a legitimate contract. Public Policy issue as we cant determine this particular claim on the merits. Clearly the court thought there was some fraud/malicious intent/negligence on the part of Seagate, although this kind of dispute is generally in a separate class of tort action.

Re:Liability (4, Informative)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326456)

From TFA:

The basis for the case is a Minnesota statute that makes it illegal to induce "any person to change from any place in any state, territory or country to any place in this state to work in any branch of labor through or by means of knowingly false representations."

Re:Liability (1)

GGardner (97375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326502)

I am so not a lawyer, but TFA claims the basis for the case is a Minnesota state statute, but the case was argued in federal court. How does that work?

Re:Liability (1)

WizardOfFoo (639750) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326680)

More likely than not, federal diversity jurisdiction. Happens if you have none of the plaintiffs in the same state as any of the defendants and the amount in controversy is > $75,000. Also can happen if you have a federal claim and a state law claim (involving the same set of facts and circumstances) comes along for the ride under supplemental jurisdiction.

Re:Liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326686)

I am so not a lawyer, but TFA claims the basis for the case is a Minnesota state statute, but the case was argued in federal court. How does that work?

My first thought would be diversity jurisdiction [wikipedia.org] . When the amount in controversy is more than $75,000 and parties from different States are involved, the matter can be heard in federal court.

Re:Liability (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326922)

> TFA claims the basis for the case is a Minnesota state statute, but the case was argued in federal court. How does that work?

Those cases where diversity jurisdiction applies can also usually be argued in state court. Which court the case is in isn't supposed to make any substantive difference (i.e. you still use the state's laws), but it makes both procedural and political differences that can be substantial. (The politics varies.)

Re:Liability (3, Insightful)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326306)

I've posted the link to the relevent law a couple of comments down but it would seem that the most important issue was one of fraud. SeaGate in effect lured him into Minnesota with promises of a job that didn't exist and he suffered the financial repercussions. His eventual firing wasn't at issue, but rather that SeaGate seemed to have hired him away from a decent job so as to put him in a placeholder position as a means of drumming up a little business - they weren't hiring him in good faith.

Re:Liability (5, Funny)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326378)

""Neato. I'm curious to what extent they're liable though."

I'm going to guess somewhere in the 1.9 Million dollar range, but who can say for sure?

Re:Liability (1)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326952)

It would take some kind of person with experience and skills in judgement. Does such a career exist?

Re:Liability (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327114)

I have heard that there is such a job, and from what I understand your judgment doesn't even have to be all that good!

Too Much (1)

cob666 (656740) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326258)

While I do agree that this really sucks I'm not sure it's worth almost 2 Million dollars. He might have done a bit more research on the new job or perhaps worked for a few months BEFORE uprooting his entire family (which is most likely what I would have done in a similar situation). I think that 6 or maybe even 12 months severance should suffice in this situation. The guy actually got paid for 9 months to do his job so it sounds to me like there was a job, it just didn't last as long as the guy had hoped it would.

Re:Too Much (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326416)

They broke Minnesota law by lying to him. The job did not really exist, simple as that. The verdict was for Punitive Damages "compensation in excess of actual damages - a form of punishment awarded in cases of malicious or willful misconduct" not Liability damages "compensation for actual damages"

Re:Too Much (2, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326622)

I always thought that paying punitive damages to the plaintiff was just asking for the system to be abused. I'm not saying that's the case here, but in general surely we'd see a fraction of the number of frivolous claims if they weren't a potential ticket to lifelong financial security.

Sure, the guy should be compensated for travel, lost earnings, and general disruption to his life, but those are all direct (although not necessarily tangible) consequences of the claim. Equally, it makes sense to fine the company an amount that discourages them from repeating the action. Problem is, for an amount to have any effect at all on a company, it'll be large enough to be life changing for a normal person. Give the actual damages to the plaintiff, and use the punitive damages to pay for public services.

Re:Too Much (3, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326762)

To be honest, there are people out there (a lot of them with businesses and living in Florida) who want to just take advantage of others as much as possible. Without the thread of punitive damages, those people would break the law where it only got their company into trouble and the only punishment would be that they'd have to pay out what they normally would have had to any ways, which isn't really a punishment at all as its what they should have been doing. Punitive damages are a threat to them so that hopefully they won't do it in the first place or won't do it twice.

When I was younger, I used to think punitive damages were getting out of control too, but now I see that they have a purpose. People get greedy on both sides of the bench.

Re:Too Much (2, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326838)

I might not have been clear, but I wasn't suggesting abolishing punitive damages, I was just saying that they should be spent on public services rather than given to the plaintiff.

The greedy defendant still has their bad behaviour disincentiveised, but the motivation for greedy plaintiff to file lawsuits in the hope of a big payoff goes away.

Re:Too Much (2, Insightful)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327002)

I might not have been clear, but I wasn't suggesting abolishing punitive damages, I was just saying that they should be spent on public services rather than given to the plaintiff.

The greedy defendant still has their bad behaviour disincentiveised, but the motivation for greedy plaintiff to file lawsuits in the hope of a big payoff goes away.

Then the incentive for reporting the undesirable behavior isn't there, though, and if you've been wronged you have to ask yourself "do I want to spend my next few months in court (likely not being able to work and being quite inconvenienced) just to hurt those that wronged me"? In effect, you'll be making the undesirable action more likely as it will be less likely to be reported and litigated as the only people who can fight back while not gaining anything are those that are well off enough that the undesirable action didn't really hurt them much.

Re:Too Much (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326818)

This again? I'll never understand how people think that the victim getting rewarded is "asking for the system to be abused" and then in the next breath suggest we instead give the one party that is not only supposed to be neutral but has the most power to affect case outcomes, the government and thereby it's subsidiaries the courts, the reward instead thus giving them a motive to decide or help cases be decided in favor of large punitive damages.

I mean, are you even thinking through anything other then the knee-jerk reaction of "Boy, 1.9 million, why does that jerk deserve to get it?" In what way does a victim getting rewarded beg the system to be abused? People who are victimized have more motivation to try to hold companies accountable?

Re:Too Much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34327060)

The punitive reward could go to no one at all. We just take $1,900,000 minus whatever amount was necessary to make the plaintive whole from the defendant and burn it.

Re:Too Much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326836)

Give the actual damages to the plaintiff, and use the punitive damages to pay for public services.

The public isn't burdened with the cost and risk of the lawsuit, the plaintiff is. Imagine systemic small-scale abuse by a firm. The potential for punitive damages can create the incentive to bring a lawsuit and stop an abusive practice where compensatory damages would never be sufficient.

Re:Too Much (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326950)

> Equally, it makes sense to fine the company an amount that discourages them from repeating the action. Problem is, for an amount to have any effect at all on a company, it'll be large enough to be life changing for a normal person. Give the actual damages to the plaintiff, and use the punitive damages to pay for public services.

Yes, with a slight modification: punitive damages should have some kind of copay. Take enough from the company to discourage them from breaking the law, and give enough to the plaintiff to make it worth his time to add it to his complaint.

Re:Too Much (2, Insightful)

md65536 (670240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326652)

I'd be willing to not do a job that doesn't exist, for well under one million dollars.

A lot of people will even work at jobs that do exist (the worst kind, in my opinion) for 50 years and not make $1.9M.

The sad thing is that most people who get laid off probably do not get compensation equalling actual damages. I'm sure a lot of people who have been laid off would be satisfied with 1% of what he got.

I don't think Seagate was malicious or willfully misconductive. It's not like they were "out to get him" or anything. "Let's make him uproot his family and then say 'April fools!' That'll be hilarious." And I'm not saying companies shouldn't take responsibility for the people they hire. But I will say that it's not fair for one person to get "compensation in excess" while there are others of us who get laid off by someone who "didn't care what effect it had" on our careers, while we don't have the means to hire a lawyer to set it straight.

Re:Too Much (1)

emt377 (610337) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326738)

I don't think Seagate was malicious or willfully misconductive.

There's one born every minute...

Re:Too Much (5, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326756)

I'm all for changing the "at will" bit, or at least imposing some very heavy tax penalties on companies that routinely engage in layoffs. I'm as sick as anyone of seeing people treated as some kind of disposable widget.

But even absent that, it's a different scenario indeed when they basically knew they had no project, and just hired this guy to give the illusion that they did. The fact that the project was in a far different state than they represented it to him pretty well shows they were not acting in good faith. They represented to him that he was going to be taking on a project that was basically ready, when in reality he was there to slightly improve the odds on a longshot bet and get dumped by the wayside if it didn't work out.

That's fraud, and it should be penalized. Don't get me wrong, I think it's equally despicable, and should be equally punishable, to represent a job as a good long-term prospect and then proceed to lay someone off after a couple months. But at least one time, the people doing it got caught, and got stung. Maybe the next company about to pull this trick will have a second thought. Seagate sure will. While this by no means will bring them to bankruptcy, it's a sum that'll get their attention.

That's the point of punitive damages. Actual damages would just be a "cost of doing business", punitive makes it sting at least a little. And if this guy's starting his own company, he'll probably be employing some people himself soon, if he hasn't already. I can hardly begrudge him the money knowing that.

Re:Too Much (4, Insightful)

OhPlz (168413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326530)

What do you think his chances for future employment are? Any employer is going to Google him and discover that this happened. Granted he won the case on the merits, but if a company has a choice between a candidate that hasn't ever sued an employer and one who has, who do you think they'll choose?

Re:Too Much (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326626)

Pretty low, and this is what makes the $2mil payment just.

Re:Too Much (5, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326636)

That may be why he started his own company and now earns "a fraction of the income he earned as a yield engineer," according to TFA.

Re:Too Much (1)

bronney (638318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326654)

And that is why it's 2 million dollars and not 200,000.

Re:Too Much (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326638)

1. If the person goes bankrupt he or she can not work again due to a bad credit score. This amounts to 7 years or more before it is erased. Also he or she would be forced to take jobs well under his or her ability like at a McDonalds due to Seagates bad faith.
2. This is punitive and compensatory. Otherwise Seagate will continue to do this and just make it the cost of business. This will scare it and other employers in the future of making such false promises.

Sounds 2 million is quite fair and cheap. Many punitive suites are 10x as much. As much as we hate lawyers and those who get rich by not working they do make their job as 2 million will make upper management blink and change their hiring policies.

Re:Too Much (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326802)

Many punitive suites are 10x as much

nah, punitive suites can be quite a bit cheaper if you opt for the brunette with a paddle rather than the blonde with a whip.

Re:Too Much (5, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327012)

He might have done a bit more research on the new job

What kind of research would he have done? They told him he'd be doing X, and had no intention of giving him that job. They just slapped him in position Y as a placeholder for a few months. They were lying to him. The position didn't exist. If you can't trust the folks you're interviewing with, who else are you supposed to talk to?

perhaps worked for a few months BEFORE uprooting his entire family (which is most likely what I would have done in a similar situation).

May not have been possible.

I don't think I could personally afford to pay the mortgage on my house plus the rent on an apartment or a hotel room for 6-12 months (plus associated utilities, and transportation, and whatever else).

Then you've got the hardship of being away from your family for 6-12 months. Not just a couple hours away either. He moved from Dallas to MN. That's a good chunk of turf. If he wanted to see his family he'd be driving for a couple days or flying. Not cheap. Not easy to do.

While I do agree that this really sucks I'm not sure it's worth almost 2 Million dollars.

I think that 6 or maybe even 12 months severance should suffice in this situation. The guy actually got paid for 9 months to do his job so it sounds to me like there was a job, it just didn't last as long as the guy had hoped it would.

The guy was hired to do job X. That position theoretically expands upon his knowledge and will lead to nice resume-filler and maybe some promotions or something. Instead he was stuffed in position Y, which was a place-holder job. It did nothing for his resume. Now he's got to explain the months of crap-work on his resume.

Further, he moved 1,000+ miles. Uprooted his entire family. Moving costs... Finding a new place to live... Selling the old place... Packing everything up... Leaving all your friends behind... Not an easy thing to do.

Finally, he had a good job down in Dallas.

And keep in mind he was lured away with a lie. It was fraud. He wasn't hired to do job X and then job X went away... He was hired to do job X when nobody had any actual intention to have him do job X because it didn't exist. The company lied to him.

Part of the compensation is to pick up all those additional expenses and hardships...

Part of the compensation is to punish the company for fraudulent behavior.

Details (5, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326262)

The Summary seems to skirt around the more salacious details. TFA says

"It was beneficial for [Seagate] to have a yield engineer on staff to give the appearance of a complete organization with a project that was further along in development. They were not able to sell or find a partner for the ATG group despite having him on board as the placeholder yield engineer."

The inference was that SeaGate bought Vaidyanathan on as a little corporate theatrics, manipulating appearances while they looked for a partner organization.

He was able to sue under a Minnesota law [mn.gov] that makes it illegal for

any ... company...doing business in this state...to induce, influence, persuade, or engage any person to change from one place to another in this state, or to change from any place in any state, territory, or country to any place in this state, to work in any branch of labor through or by means of knowingly false representations

Re:Details (1)

Velorium (1068080) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326418)

That's a good law.

Re:Details (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326490)

A little too good. Considering how much corporate wang Pawlenty managed to suck while trying to lure larger corporations to MN, I'm surprised it's still on the books.

Re:Details (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326564)

I agree its a great law to prevent a company for pulling crap they tried to on him. When you look at Seagate 2mill pfft is just pocket change to them in the end.

Re:Details (0, Troll)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326854)

Um... I don't have a dog in this fight, but AFAIK performing "corporate theatrics" while looking for a partner is not "knowingly false" until the search falls thru...

I am sure Seagate wasn't trying to personally jerk around this one guy. What if the partner had been found and everything was cool?

While unfortunate for Vaidyanathan, as far as the Seagate thing goes, it sounds like he won a lawsuit lottery to the tune of 1.9 $M (for which I am sure his lawyer is happy to take %40).

Oh, and if it was characterized as "damages" he probably doesn't have to pay income tax on it.

At-will employment (5, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326346)

There is no loyalty between employers and employees, and that's been the case for a few decades now. It's everyone-watch-yo-own-ass, like the Wall St. mercenaries.

Time to consider employment contracts like they do for investment bankers.

Re:At-will employment (5, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326590)

The employer has all the bargaining power unless you are extremely talented and rare in your abilities. Just because there is no loyality does not give Seagate the green light to harm other people. Laws like this need to be enforced to scare employers to be reasonable. After all if you did millions in damages to your employer he can sue you right? Same principle.

If a job is temp or does not exist they can't make an offer. It is not fair to the person nor family.

Re:At-will employment (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327162)

Yeah, especially these days. But that bit of Minnesota employment law seems too vague and roundabout to be adequate.

Re:At-will employment (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327164)

The employer has all the bargaining power unless you are extremely talented and rare in your abilities.

This is only true if you give it to them. The reason they have power is because there are lots of workers, and they can find another worker if they want to.

The flip side is that there are lots of companies, and you can always find another one, especially as a programmer. As soon as any company starts doing things I don't like, I start sending out resumes for another one. I am not a genius, but I work hard, provide value worthy of my pay, and I don't need to put up with garbage. (Note I didn't say I quite immediately, I start looking).

That said, from what I can see, this case looks clearly like fraud. It doesn't matter if it was a corporation or an individual who was making the promises, they failed to deliver, and apparently never intended to.

bigger than seagate (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326350)

Minnesota is a "At Will" [wikipedia.org] employment state, which is a misnomer. Basically it means they can fire you at any time, for (almost) any reason, without any warning or compensation, unless otherwise covered by federal laws (for example, mass layoffs). Most states have laws similar to this. In this case, they caught Seagate on a technicality -- the jury believed that Seagate willfully misrepresented the job to him, and thus was in violation of a state law.

Without knowing the case specifics, I can't say with authority how likely this is to be overturned, but if Seagate can demonstrate that the project fell apart for business reasons that could not be reasonably anticipated, it'll die on appeal. And it is very likely that it will.

Re:bigger than seagate (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326478)

My guess is it will get overturned as well unless by some miracle he has hard evidence that Seagate acted in bad faith when it hired him. Plus, he worked there for 9 months before he was laid off. Jury probably felt sorry for a small guy against a big company, but appellate courts will be a bit more hard-nosed about following the law.

Re:bigger than seagate (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326524)

It sounds like there is evidence if you look at some of the other comments. Apparently the job didn't really exist when they hired him. They hired him for a fake position in the hopes that his presence in the position would cause the business to materialize that would make the position exist. That sounds like bad faith to me.

Re:bigger than seagate (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327068)

While he worked at a job for 9 months, it was not the one that he was hired to do, as that job did not really ever exist.

Re:bigger than seagate (1)

gweilo8888 (921799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326504)

Minnesota is only At Will if the employee doesn't hold a contract "directly [limiting] ... the employer's right to terminate the employee without cause." [lawyers.com] Could be it'll get overturned, or could be he's got something preventing this in his contract, and really has a case.

/IANAL and have no info on the case beyond TFA.

Re:bigger than seagate (3, Informative)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326520)

Employment at will does not mean you can make false promises to someone where they are hurt financially. It is not the laying off but the promising of something they knew was not real or would not happen before she started employment. You can't fire someone because he is black whether you are an at-will employer or not. It is the same thing and something needs to be done to protect workers for once.

Re:bigger than seagate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326758)

How is it a misnomer?

You work "at the will" of your employer, they can fire you for any reason (other than Federally protected reasons, as you mention, i.e. race, religion etc). No one forces your employer to keep you employed.

You work "at the will" of yourself. You can quit anytime you want. No one forces you to stay at a job you do not want to be at.

Now sometimes we get "stuck" at a job we don't want to do, but that is different than being "forced" to work there or nowhere else.

Promissory Estoppel (4, Informative)

ShiftyOne (1594705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326386)

Liability was based off of a contract term called reliance or promissory estoppel. Because he relied on a promise of a job, and it cost him a bunch of money, he is given damage for what he went through. I am not a lawyer but that is the basic premise of the term. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promissory_estoppel [wikipedia.org]

I wish MA was the same (1)

PDG (100516) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326408)

I got laid off last week after only working for 3 weeks. Who does hiring when they are about to re-org?

Re:I wish MA was the same (1)

cutegigi (1246884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326466)

Stupid HR people ?

Re:I wish MA was the same (1)

Morty (32057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326648)

At a former job, my bosses hired someone to fill an opening just before a reorg. They were upfront with the new hire about the risks. The philosophy was that the group's work would most likely still be necessary after the reorg, so it was better for the group to be at full staff and responsive during the reorg, and the new hire would most likely keep his job. Sure enough, everyone in the group made it through the reorg OK, and the new hire stayed on for years.

Kinda says something... (1)

_0rm_ (1638559) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326420)

Says a bit as to why SSD technology is taking so god damn long to progress.

Miserably Bad Sources for Article (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326496)

The article draws almost exclusively on the guy's lawyer for it's material: you know, the same lawyer who gets probably half a million out of this 'guilty' verdict? I can't imagine a worse primary source than that for informing any attempt at a factual, semi-serious debate on the case.

Furthermore, while I agree that hiring someone for a patently fabricated project and career track is unethical, I'm not convinced that Seagate did that here. Hiring a highly skilled individual long before urgently needing them isn't unethical; it's thinking ahead. Again, if they hired him exclusively to bullshit possible business partners and simultaneously could have foreseen wanting to get rid of him if or when this particular project died, then of course it's wrong, but the article doesn't go even halfway to convincing me of this supposition.

As an aside, I'm a little confused about how the lost time and the litigation process "ended" his career as a yield engineer. Have other people refused to hire him? Does the field change so fast that he truly doesn't know anything useful anymore and may as well have switched jobs? That whole thing smells of drumming up sympathy and inflating the measurable economic loss to seek a larger judgment, or perhaps getting those benefits to the case out of convenience after deciding voluntarily to give up the profession for the entrepreneurial endeavor the plaintiff is engaged in now.

Re:Miserably Bad Sources for Article (2, Insightful)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326780)

As an aside, I'm a little confused about how the lost time and the litigation process "ended" his career as a yield engineer. Have other people refused to hire him? Does the field change so fast that he truly doesn't know anything useful anymore and may as well have switched jobs?

Employers tend not to give much of a career to people who sued their former employer, even if the suit is legitimate. Also, having large gaps on your resume makes you look bad as an employment prospect even without a lawsuit. I can easily believe he's now unemployable.

Re:Miserably Bad Sources for Article (1)

emt377 (610337) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326844)

Furthermore, while I agree that hiring someone for a patently fabricated project and career track is unethical, I'm not convinced that Seagate did that here.

Have you ever been involved in a labor dispute? If you have, you know the very fact that Seagate lost means he has hard evidence that they planned and conspired to do this. Without hard evidence your chances of winning a case like this are nil.

Re:Miserably Bad Sources for Article (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326914)

I see your point, but I'd rather not rely entirely on inferences where the plain truth could and should be available. This article is an interview masquerading as hard journalism, and while you're probably right I wouldn't mind seeing more sources than the guy's lawyer: maybe they could quote some nice smart university professor who has experience and solid credentials to make the objection you just showed me, for example.

Re:Miserably Bad Sources for Article (1)

Kindgott (165758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327148)

As an aside, I'm a little confused about how the lost time and the litigation process "ended" his career as a yield engineer. Have other people refused to hire him? Does the field change so fast that he truly doesn't know anything useful anymore and may as well have switched jobs? That whole thing smells of drumming up sympathy and inflating the measurable economic loss to seek a larger judgment, or perhaps getting those benefits to the case out of convenience after deciding voluntarily to give up the profession for the entrepreneurial endeavor the plaintiff is engaged in now.

This portion of his lawyer's argument struck me as odd, as well. I'm not sure how Seagate hiring you for 9 months after you worked at TI kills your career forever. Anyone around here have an insight, or is the lawyer blowing smoke?

My aunt went through same thing (5, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326500)

She was a VP of human resources. She was offered a position that paid up to 180k a year. She sold her home and looked forward to the new position. It turns out they only planned to keep her for a 3 month project and laid her off. The job details made it appear that it was permanent and no mention of temp to hire appeared in job description.

She lost her home, savings, and moved back in with her parents. She is 55 and is too old to be rehired and lost everything. I hope she can quote this case as an example. Something has to give in this country. The rest of the 1st world does not have any of this nonsense and has much more support services. She is about ready to work at McDonalds and beg. Sometimes I hope these people and companies ROT.

Re:My aunt went through same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326614)

tell us the name of the company.
we can indicate our displeasure by choosing to not do business with them.

Re:My aunt went through same thing (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326656)

I hope she can quote this case as an example.

Only if she is in Minnesota or if her state has similar laws. FTFA:

The basis for the case is a Minnesota statute that makes it illegal to induce "any person to change from any place in any state, territory or country to any place in this state to work in any branch of labor through or by means of knowingly false representations."

That said, I don't follow the 55 is too old to get a job logic. How fucked up is our country?

Re:My aunt went through same thing (1, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326752)

She was a VP of human resources. She sold her home and looked forward to the new position...
[snip]
She lost her home, savings, and moved back in with her parents...

Something about this story just doesn't add up.

Re:My aunt went through same thing (3, Interesting)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326984)

Uhm, she sold her old home, moved to wherever the new job was, and bought a new home? These things do happen, you know.

Though to be honest she should have been more cautious than to buy a house less than three months after moving to a new location; I mean, what if it doesn't work out (like this didn't)? What if she just hates the new position?

Re:My aunt went through same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326772)

As a VP for what I assume a reasonable amount of time and obviously made over 6 figures--did she actually save any money? Doesn't sound like it if she lost everything.

Re:My aunt went through same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34326816)

Knew a dude that something similar happened to.

"I am hearing rumors of a buyout"
"Oh those are not true"
"Well I am about to quit my other job and sell my house and take this one full time"
"Oh you should do exactly that this is a wonderful job"
3 weeks later
"you are laid off you no longer have a job"
"WHAT you told me..."
"I lied to you get over it I have a fiduciary duty to the company to talk about contracts that are in progress"

The group I work in was able to make it up to him and he now has a job and then some. Her on the other hand still unemployed and can not get one around here because of that little stunt (messing over nearly 400 people and word gets around). The HR lady who did this to this dude is one cold hearted bitch. She repeatedly had done this to many people. I try to feel sorry for her but then I think back on all the times she had done the 'shady' things to my friends.

HR works for the company and not the workers. Perhaps your aunt should retrain as something else. HR is usually filled up with young pretty things who have an attitude. When the pretty goes, they go. As there are dozens to fill their place. Companies do that because people listen to young ladies more than old battle axes... Remember HR is not about helping workers. It is about keeping the company out of hot water and putting up a good appearance. If that means getting rid of 'trouble makers' then so be it no matter how well they perform. People *FEAR* HR they do not look to them for help...

I have seen this dozens of times thru the years. Your aunt probably was the HR scapegoat brought in to do the dirty work. That way the other HR people could skate thru and keep their jobs. She probably also burned a couple of bridges over the years.

McDonalds may say she's overqualified and not even (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327056)

McDonalds may say she's overqualified and not even hire her.

As for tech jobs they don't want to give people with 10 years in field 1 level 1 job even you got layed off and just want anything even if it means going back to a lower level job and or pay.

Happy for this (1)

Meniconi,Nando (666243) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326634)

Hell yeah!

Something similar happened to me (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326778)

I was really hard up for a job and took one out of town. I ended up moving from Sandusky, OH to Columbus, OH for the job.

Corporate laid everyone off in that office within 3 months of me starting. I found out after the fact that after I had been offered the job by the local HR folks and signed a lease on an apartment, corporate was going to renege on the deal because they knew at that time they would be laying everyone off. Apparently that was legally questionable, so they hired me anyway.

Luckily I had a better job lined up by my last day. The rest is history.

A pretty penny (1)

nanospook (521118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34326992)

SWEET!

*Seagate* ended his career?! (1)

FishOuttaWater (1163787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34327080)

"The amount of time Vaidyanathan was away from his chosen profession, both at Seagate and during the litigation, ended his career as a yield engineer."

Was there some reason he couldn't work while he was suing Seagate? Is that a full time job?

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