Fox's Executive-Poaching Lawsuit Against Netflix Hits Court
Jan 20, 2017 03:33 PM EST
A legal battle between two of the biggest media giants, Netflix and 20th Century Fox has hit courts. The "executive poaching" suit was filed by Fox and has made headlines over the streaming service's apparent snagging of two former Fox executives.
Oral arguments between the media giants were heard in court today. The rights of contracted employee who were in search of better jobs were discussed and Century Fox's right of fixed-term contract enforcements with employees.
In September 2016, Fox filed a suit against Netflix claiming that that the streaming service "poached" two of its executives namely Tara Flynn and Marcos Waltenberg. Both employees left to join Netflix while still being under contract with Fox. Netflix hit back and charged Fox with "unlawful and anti-competitive business practices" stating that Fox was in violation of state law with its fixed-term contracts.
Fox's attorney stated to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg that Netflix had "no conceivable standing to bring this complaint" while in court on Thursday. He also added that Fox had "every legal right" upon its employees to enforce its own contracts.
On the other hand, Karen Johnson-McKewan, Netflix's attorney, argued that the "ecosystem of fixed-term contracts" followed by Fox was "unlawfully restrictive". She also added that is these contracts were allowed to be enforced, it would leave "a chilling effect on employees' mobility to prevent them from leaving."
Netflix's attorney noted that fixed-term contracts were legal for "recording artists, athletes and movie stars," but were not enforceable for "rank-and-file" workers. Those workers are typically considered "at-will employees" - which goes to say that despite signing employment contracts, they were free to take their leave at any time.
The judge did not rule as of yet but is expected to do so soon. Fox filed a motion to throw out Netflix's cross-complaint or else move to trial. Wednesday had the judge issuing a tentative ruling which denied Fox's motion to dismiss Netflix's counter suit.