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HP Cuts Workforce By 5%, Looks To Probe GM Hires 304

Posted by samzenpus
from the picking-teams dept.
dcblogs writes "Hewlett-Packard's reduced its workforce last year by 17,800 employees, more than half-way to its restructuring goal. But some key IT workers left unexpectedly and have taken jobs with HP customer, General Motors. GM, which outsourced its IT for years to EDS, announced plans last year to in-source its IT. HP acquired EDS in 2008. On Nov. 30, 18 employees of HP's Global Information Technology Organization in Austin 'resigned en masse and without notice' and 'immediately began working for General Motors in Austin in GM's new IT Innovation Center,' according to court papers. HP is asking the court for approval to depose some of the exiting workers to determine whether employment contracts were violated. 'HP expects that additional resignations will follow as the departed employees will likely seek to build out their teams by filling in with subordinate employees from HP,' the company said."
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HP Cuts Workforce By 5%, Looks To Probe GM Hires

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  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @10:33PM (#42457195)

    . . . except, of course, if you are looking for competent high level managers . . .

  • by sribe (304414) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:19AM (#42457775)

    The supreme court of Canada recently made a very radical decision I think regarding a bunch of guys who left a big bank here. Basically the court decision was that people can work wherever the hell they want for whomever will have them.

    FYI, here in the U.S., the state of California, home to the greatest concentration of tech companies, works pretty much this way. Other states still allow non-compete contracts to stand as they're written, but California severely restricts their enforcement.

  • Re:So.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @01:12AM (#42458297)
    So why hire people in a 'Right to Work' State if they cannot leave 'at will'. HP certainly thinks that they can fire staff at will...
  • by stox (131684) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @01:30AM (#42458479) Homepage

    Actually, the inkjet was invented by Teletype Corp in 1965. The Bozo's at AT&T, the parent company of Teletype, couldn't figure out what to do with it. in 1982, when the patents expired, HP figured out what to do with it!

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:24AM (#42458915)

    Texas is a right to work state.

    Right to work simply means that employers are forbidden from signing contracts with unions that say they will only hire members of the union. That's it. You might be thinking of "employment at will" which means employer can fire and the employee can quit without notice or cause unless the employment contract says otherwise - but all 50 states are like that, Texas is not special in that way.

    As for specifics of employment contracts - like non-competes and such, that varies from state to state and Texas is a lot less protective of employees than a state like California (which, for example, practically forbids non-competes except in extreme cases, like a golden parachute equal to the salary for the duration of the non-compete).

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:30AM (#42458955)

    I've been involved, numerous times, in cleaning up after that kind of loss of personnel. The loss of institutional knowledge can be devastating: there may be no one left who knows _why_ things were done certain ways, and it can really endanger ongoing services and other contracts to lose that much of a key department without some kind of plan.

    Yes, well isnt' that too bad for HP, or whoever. This is why you pay employees what they are worth to you if they decide to leave. And guess what, employees respond to uncertainty with their feet. The best employees can always find new jobs, and never will have to worry about going hungry. But the best employees also want to leave on their own terms. You cannot, as a company, expect to "trim" here and there, and not have a negative effect on your best staff.

    In your previous situation, the employer weighed the possibility of a "devastating" loss of knowledge against the costs of retaining their employees without whom they would devastated. They gambled, and lost. These larger companies think they are the masters of the universe, but it's not true. They live in a world where intellectual capital has inflows and outflows, just like actual capital.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:44AM (#42459023)

    I think that you may be overstating your ability to sign away your employment rights in TX. In any state, all such contracts must be made in "consideration" for something - you must get something in return for anything you give up.

    Once you are hired, or retained, they will have a hard time enforcing any contract which did not come with a tangible benefit when it adds restrictions. If your boss rolls by a few weeks after you are hired with a stack of non-competes, chances are, they are worthless unless signing the documents gets you a cash bonus, a promotion, more salary, better vacation policy, or something tangible benefit. If it's just "sign these, it's routine", they are not valid contracts. In general, this is true across all contract law. There must be a bona fide "meeting of the minds", plus "consideration" for both parties.

    Secondly, in all cases, the employer must be protecting valid business secrets, and not just making a naked restraint of trade. Meaning, the employer must have a legitimate reason to prevent you, specifically, from competing with them. If the purpose is simply to clear out potential future competition, it is probably unenforceable.

    Finally, in all cases, the employer must attach the non-compete to another agreement which is enforceable, i.e., an employment contract. For "at will" employee, who is not under any contract, there is nothing to attach such agreement to, and as such, any "naked" instrument is probably illegal.

    The real truth is that most of these documents that employees are asked to sign as a matter of course are not enforceable. Some are, but in those cases, the employee has (1) an employment contract, (2) been given access to actual trade secrets, and (3) is integral to the operation of a business engaged in work related to an actual trade secret. Even in Texas.

    None of this is to say that the employer can't make your life very unpleasant. Especially if you out on your own to start a new competing business. My own two cents is that if you are moving between employers that compete directly, make known your concerns to your new employer, and get a written guarantee of (1) legal support up to a large dollar amount and (2) indemnification against judgement.

  • HP is now Agilent (Score:5, Informative)

    by mangu (126918) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @05:30AM (#42459809)

    Years ago, they split the company in two. The part that did the original work in electronics that started in the 1930s became Agilent. The part that specializes in selling printer ink kept the HP brand.

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