When unemployment is low or demand is high for a certain type of job candidate, the competition for those workers can become fierce—and unlawful.
In 2004, the labor market in Tulsa, Okla., was particularly tight for finance professionals. IBM had contracted with staffing firm AcctKnowledge on a three-year deal to supply 88 finance workers to serve as temporary staff in the computer maker’s Tulsa office. During the third year of the contract, however, IBM abruptly terminated the relationship and awarded the work to a rival staffing firm, Manpower.
AcctKnowledge subsequently sued IBM and Manpower, charging that IBM unlawfully terminated its contract by not providing the contract’s stipulated 30-day notice. The suit also accused Manpower of “poaching” the temporary workers placed at IBM by AcctKnowledge, saying Manpower used threats and other tactics against the temporary workers as they reported for work at IBM’s Tulsa office.
According to the suit, on October 23, 2007, Manpower representatives stood at entrances to the IBM building, soliciting temporary workers and distributing invitations to “informational sessions.” In those invitations, AcctKnowledge’s temporary workers learned IBM had terminated its relationship with AcctKnowledge. According to the Manpower representatives, if the temps wanted to keep their jobs at IBM, they would need to leave AcctKnowledge and sign on with Manpower.
While poaching is common in many industries, HR experts warn that it’s a dangerous strategy. Not only does it not help expand the pool of qualified candidates, but poaching also leads to wage inflation. What’s more, when high performers are recruited en masse out of an organization, workplace morale suffers.
If you were an employer, what would you do to protect your workforce against poachers? Post your responses in this forum, and then comment on one other student's responses.
Court Case: AcctKnowledge v IBM, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 43623.
Sources: John Zappe, “Tulsa Lawsuit Is Unusual and May Be a Loser,” ere.net,November 14, 2007, http://www.ere.net; Laurie Winslow, “Staffing Firms File Suits against Manpower, IBM,” Tulsa World, November 2, 2007, http://www.tulsaworld.com; Paul McDougall, “IBM, Manpower Accused Of Employee Poaching,” InformationWeek,November 1, 2007, http://www.infoweek.com;Deborah Perelman, “IBM Hit with Poaching Lawsuit,” eWeek Careers, November 5, 2007, http://www.careers.eweek.com;TECHWEB, “IBM, Manpower Accused of Employee Poaching,” November 1, 2007,http://www.techweb.com.