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The Almighty Buck The Courts

Seagate To Pay Former Worker $1.9M For Phantom Job 354

Posted by timothy
from the we're-glad-you-came dept.
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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Seagate To Pay Former Worker $1.9M For Phantom Job

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  • Liability (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mirix (1649853) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:46PM (#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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:53PM (#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.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:23PM (#34326500) Journal

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:37PM (#34326628)
    Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?
  • by IICV (652597) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:28PM (#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?

  • by SlightOverdose (689181) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:03AM (#34327220)
    We may laugh, but when I first graduated in 2003 there was a plethora of job advertisements in my area asking for 5 or more years experience with .NET
  • Re:Too Much (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:07AM (#34327232) Journal

    I think what got them was the fraud part. It would be like you having a fast track job at MSFT working on the integration of Windows 8 and the X360, and I lure you away saying "Hey we want to give you a high profile job at Apple designing the "one more thing" we are gonna roll out next year" and when you get there the "job" is answering Steve's emails.

    Now it doesn't matter if you were paid the same as if you were actually working on the "one more thing" because by hiring you away for a fake job you just got torpedoed from the fast track you were on and may take ten years to get back into that position, if you ever do at all. So I'd say that it is good to set this kind of precedent so that you don't fuck over peoples lives playing a game of "who has the bigger corporate penis". After all without any kind of ruling against this kind of douchebaggery, what is to stop say someone like Oracle from just hiring away key developers from rivals for non existent jobs just to hurt them before acquisition? You take out the right people in a company at just the wrong time and you can seriously mess them up, and if this were allowed without punishment you could just toss those key people after keeping them in a holding pattern until the damage is done.

  • by Hylandr (813770) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @01:27AM (#34327656) Homepage
    Hogwash.

    So many people confuse education with intelligence. Education will *amplify* intelligence no doubt. But having done 4 years of pushing paper only means your good at pushing paper. It does *not* promise talent. in fact, most talent is driven from individuals during college. The corporate workplace wants and needs drones.

    End Rant.

    - Dan.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @03:14AM (#34328140)

    But having done 4 years of pushing paper only means your good at pushing paper. It does *not* promise talent.

    I agree with you here. Talent is not a guarantee with a college degree absolutely. But it does guarantee something that actually is important to employers. A college degree is a statement that you can attempt a large and difficult and often times dreary task and stick through it to the end, and actually see it through to the end. A degree says determination. Employers love determination. That's what gets projects done on time.

    in fact, most talent is driven from individuals during college.

    Here is where we disagree. K-12 is like that, but college certainly isn't. I loved college intensely. If I hadn't gotten married along the way I'd be a prof myself by now. Where else can you go into a building and have PhD's explain interesting things to you all day long? It's wonderful.

    I loved my engineering courses. I look at the world with new eyes now. For example, I know that shape a power line makes is a catenary, and I know why it looks like that. Hell, I even liked the goofy other stuff they made me take. I still lean on my Economics class for insights into the world around me. I know why the GDP is important. And public speaking. I teach classes on our software every so often and each time I walk into a room full of strangers I think of Dr. Dial who taught me how to speak to crowds. And even a poetry appreciation class where they taught us how to pull meaning from words and dissect advertising. I can tell you how you are being manipulated by any advertisement 9 times out of 10. I mostly avoid TV and advertising now because of that class.

    I positively bloomed in college, and found it to be the most enriching time of my life.

  • by Third Position (1725934) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:20AM (#34328434)

    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.

    Yep. You nailed it. [youtube.com]

  • by Captain Hook (923766) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:48AM (#34328550)

    Education will *amplify* intelligence no doubt.

    The other way round surely, a higher level of intelligence allows you to learn new stuff quicker. i.e. Intelligence amplifies education.

  • Re:Liability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:14AM (#34328658)

    The difference here is, that man was highly qualified and working in a field where I don't imagine you can drum up employment simply by wandering from house to house asking if anyone needs their lawn mowing.

    He now has a CV (okay, resume, seeing as he's in the US) which shows he moved for this job and was promptly made redundant. Now, for a lot of HR people that's going to be a red flag - and they'll use it to disqualify him from future jobs.

    I'm not sure that's sufficient grounds to argue that Seagate have effectively ended his career - I've never yet got a job through the formal HR process - but I'm not familiar with his field. Clearly Mr. Vaidyanathan thinks it is, and has managed to find a lawyer who can persuade a jury likewise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:35AM (#34328794)

    Zero notice, no severance, 2 days of health insurance.
    Their policies, methods, and management suck. Don't ever work for them.
    I've been contacted by others who had similar experiences in the past.
    Highly unprofessional.

  • Re:All too common (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:11AM (#34329000) Homepage

    Nothing surprising about that, in any country in the world.

    Don't do stupid things until you at least have stuff on paper. I was "promised" a huge raise / promotion by the head of the school I was working for. By his count, I would be god earning a living just from the interest on my wages. My immediate boss was about to retire and they wanted me to fill that position AND take over the IT of a few other schools they were merging with. When I asked for it written down, I got a bunch of excuses about hiring practices, HR regulations, local borough advertising requirements etc. but "the job was mine". I politely declined and he kept harassing me for the next few days about it until we had a sit-down meeting, just me and him.

    I learned several things:

    1) Bosses don't like being told that you don't trust them, but the look on their face when you're honest is priceless.
    2) Having another job already lined up - at higher wages and better conditions/hours - is a very, very large bargaining chip, especially if you don't tell them about it until halfway through the meeting (and especially if they don't realise that you could SEE the changes coming months before everyone else and already have something lined up). Having it actually written on paper, with full contracts, is a BIG advantage.
    3) The wonderful job / promotion you were offered initially pales in comparison to that which is offered after several rounds of the two employers directly fighting over you.
    4) No amount of wonderful job offers actually materialise until you see something on paper - in the end, they could only afford a part-time student on half my hourly rate to replace me. Needless to say, their IT suffered quite a bit. God knows what they'll do when my old boss actually does retire.
    5) Talking to me like a child and telling me that it's a wonderful opportunity for someone "my age" is made even more funny when they later go to my immediate boss and actually find out my true age and then all the condescending things they said in the meeting suddenly come flooding back to them. They thought I was 19, turns out I was 29. He either read my HR records wrong or just didn't bother to check at all. My immediate boss literally had to say the line "You *do* know how old he is, don't you? He's not a kid who'll fall for something like that."
    6) The satisfaction of going to a new job the next week and occasionally returning to visit your old workplace would cater for any amount of monetary loss once you witness what they have done to the place and who they end up hiring. It's made even better when your new job is paying twice what they were offering you.

    I will honestly never forget the look on his face: "Don't you think that's a great offer?" "No." "But why not, it's a wonderful opportunity for someone your age!" "Because I already have a superior offer and, to be honest, I just don't trust you can do what you're promising." Turns out, I was right.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:22AM (#34329076) Homepage

    That depends on whether you consider intelligence a talent or a skill. Your talent is an innate ability which gives you a natüral level and a potential, while your actual skill will depend on training. Intelligence as measured by IQ tests will improve with education, as well as other mental challenges. So I would say both effects are true, you will both learn more and get better at the process of learning. You might say that this is only experience and not intelligence, but there's really no test that could separate the two. You are always the sum of what you were born with and your life up to now.

  • Re:Wow! Just Wow! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:41AM (#34329488) Homepage

    Still, the idea of "hiring for non-existent jobs" gets under my skin. I recall one period of time when I was between jobs, I received a lesson in the nature of recruiters and IT outsource companies. Naturally, I was already a bit leery of those types, but I was assured that it was a great opportunity [by the recruiter]. So I drove a rather long way, dressed up in my best suit. At the end of this interview, I was told that "as soon as a position opened up, I would get a call!" WHAT?! You mean there was no position for which I was interviewing? "No, this is all procedure..."

    They wasted my time and resources so that they could collect my resume to add it to a pile?! I was pretty pissed and of course I never heard back from them... not that I wanted to or expected to. I was already in a pretty desperate situation and that situation just made everything feel a lot worse.

    And back to "hoping that his presence" bit; that just doesn't seem like a sound business strategy. "Hope"? Also, maybe I need to go back and re-read it, but weren't they seeking to sell this to-be operating group?

  • Re:Too Much (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:48AM (#34329926)

    i work in recruitment many years ago (around the time of the seagate / connor merger) i placed a guy in a seagate subsidiary who was meant to be creating a worldwide WAN infrastructure - 3 months later after he had done the planning phase they said they had changed their mind on how they were going to proceed and let him go with 1 months money.

    So this doe not surprise - although it would interest me to know if they used his plans for their WAN.

  • Re:talking down... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:51AM (#34329950) Homepage

    Er... I *don't* want people to know my real age. I *do* look younger than I am and, yes, I do dress down (nothing that could be described better than "casual" during working hours) and have done so since I left uni. It's a kind of privilege that comes from being one of the highest-paid people in my workplace and one of the most critical (my employers are *always* worried about me leaving / getting caught under a bus). The official rules state that the dress code applies to everyone. Somehow every school head I've ever worked for has successfully managed to carve out an exception for that rule for me without me even having to ask or it having to come up in any conversation - while simultaneously berating other staff about exactly the same thing.

    I like people being off-guard, getting the wrong idea and underestimating. It makes work-life fun, especially when things like this happen. My entertainment at work is primarily derived from watching other people's pathetic attempts at screwing me over. I actually won a contract by that method once - I was asked to look at an IT system that a large educational company had put into a school. I delivered my verdict to the school in question after the existing contractor had introduced himself to me while I was studying the system. Because I was "just a kid", they came up with lots of bullshit excuses for why the system was so bad, told the school not to hire kids to work on it, and basically tried to smear my name. It proved embarrassing for them when I had to deliver a report to the school on the suitability of their system, having been hired to do exactly that, and was able to quote lots of shortcuts and corner-cutting that they'd done and then tried to pass off with made-up technical explanations (and in some cases had unwittingly implied in what they'd said because they didn't think a "kid" would be listening to what they *weren't* saying). Not only did they make a fool of themselves, they were unable to counter in the meeting because they were caught completely off-balance - having believed that I was just "the IT kid" the school had brought in, rather than an IT consultant hired to evaluate their system - they lost the support contract to me.

    It wasn't a one-off. People agree to meetings with me because they assume I'm just the IT kid and they can out-speak me when it comes to meetings between them, myself and my bosses. One guy tried to sell us a Linux network that could "run the Ranger suite" of network management software that we were using on the Windows domains for kids - apparently "there's this thing called WINE that will just run everything Windows on Linux". He didn't like the meeting where I pointed out that I actually know the WINE code quite well, and have my own patches for it, and that I could demonstrate how well WINE would run an AD-connected, group-policy-integrated network management Windows app that would do things like enforce kids not clicking on Control Panel or forcing file associations or even doing things like manage AD users when run on Linux. Let's just say, if you could get past the setup routine at all (with lots of hacks) then it probably *wouldn't* crash if you just ran the desktop client portion of it but it would be hard-pushed to then do things like remove the control panel from the Linux desktop, or stop kids accessing USB drives. He actually stormed out of that meeting (I'd never seen someone do that in a professional meeting before) and lost several hundred thousand pounds worth of contract - I heard he was sacked sometime after. I offered to build a Linux thin-client system better than the company were offering in an afternoon, and did it.

    Or when the IT teachers try to claim that their lessons were unable to continue because the IT gear was out of order (i.e. the "blame our not meeting OFSTED inspection criteria on the IT guy" rap). Turns out they never think that I might actually have complete logs of everything, including service and computer availability down to the nearest 5 seconds, or that I de

  • by Frodo (1221) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:04PM (#34336660) Homepage

    PERM ads are for *Green card*, not H1-B's. Which means the applicant *would not* be limited to one employer after he gets it, and so if HP or anybody else would really want cheap hitech slave labor, it would make zero sense for them to do it. The reason they do it is because they need more people than US-only market can provide them, and they are ready to go through considerable expense that PERM/GC process involves because they have no other way to get enough people that they need. They would not be cheaper or in any way linked to the employer once they have the GC - the only way to keep them would be to pay them the same as US citizens. And since hiring them involves additional expense there's absolutely no monetary or otherwise reason to prefer them to qualified US citizens - if those were available.
    The reason why they do it is very simple - they already have a person that they know fits the job and they want to keep her on the job. The government, however, doesn't let them to do just that - they require to post fake job ads, even though there's no real intent to hire - because nobody wants to replace known trained good worker with unknown newbie. This farce is a direct consequence of government meddling, as most bureaucratic farces in US are.

    It is sad that the post which gets basic facts wrong gets moderated as "Insightful"...

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