Print 33 comment(s) - last by robinthakur.. on Mar 28 at 7:30 AM

He tried to leave ahead of time despite his contract

Poaching is a common practice in the tech sector, where one company will recognize the talent of an employee at another and attempt to make that person a better offer. This recently happened when a tech executive tried leaving the withered and dying field of BlackBerry bushes in Waterloo, Ontario in favor of the healthy and prospering Apple orchard in Cupertino. But it's not clear if the poach attempt will ever be successful after a recent court ruling.

According to iMore, Apple tried to poach BlackBerry SVP of Software Sebastien Marineau-Mes, but Marineau-Mes' contract with BlackBerry got in the way. 

Marineau-Mes started talking about leaving Apple back in September 2013, and after formally being offered the position of Vice President of Core OS in December, Marineau-Mes accepted and signed a contract with Apple. 

He put in his resignation with BlackBerry on December 23 with a two-month notice, but there was one major problem: Marineau-Mes' contract said he had to give six-months notice if he were to resign.

Marineau-Mes signed the contract for a promotion to BlackBerry EVP of Platform Development on September 27, 2013 -- around the same time he was in talks with Apple. 

As a result, BlackBerry took Marineau-Mes to court over the matter.

Sebastien Marineau-Mes [SOURCE: Apple Insider]

The ruling was just handed down from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which decided that Marineau-Mes must fulfill a full six-month resignation before he can leave BlackBerry -- meaning he wouldn't be able to go to Apple until June 2014. 

This likely hurts for Marineau-Mes, but probably more so for BlackBerry. The Canadian company had Marineau-Mes sign that September contract as a promotion during a time when the company was in a promotional freeze (meaning promotions were put on hold, unless it was for someone they really wanted to hold onto).

"BlackBerry will not stand by while a former employee violates his employment contract," said BlackBerry. "It is unfortunate that we had to take this step, but we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that employees honor the agreements they make with us. When we enter into an agreement with an employee, as we have with Mr. Marineau, we expect him to honor his commitment just as he would expect that we will honor ours. We are pleased that the court has endorsed our position and ruled that the employee contract and its terms are valid."

It's unclear if Apple will wait until June for Marineau-Mes.

Apple and BlackBerry aren't the only poachers in the tech realm. In December 2013, one of Microsoft's top executives in charge of graphics -- Blaise Agüera y Arcas -- left Microsoft for Google's machine learning group.

Source: iMore

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By chmilz on 3/26/2014 2:11:38 PM , Rating: 4
There are thousands of front-line employees at Blackberry concerned about their future, and are banking on strong leadership to ensure they will still have jobs in a place where jobs are not very abundant. When people like this accept senior positions with the intention of jumping ship, they're jeopardizing the livelihoods of real people. Good on an organization for holding him accountable. I hope he actually does some real work in the interim.

RE: Good
By Belegost on 3/26/2014 2:36:35 PM , Rating: 5
Pragmatically it's pointless, they now have a lame duck EVP, everyone below him know's he's jumped ship so any decisions he makes are going to be suspect and his authority is undermined. There will be constant suspicion that his actions are directly hostile to the company, that he's making decisions based on the good of his future employer and not BB.

Further he has no motivation to be proactive and engage his work with real effort, he's just serving a sentence, and needs only do the bare minimum to not be violating the court order. And due to the damaged position he is in at the office, it's his best solution really because any real work he might try to do will be impeded and ineffective.

Overall this is a pyrrhic victory for BB - sure they got the contract upheld, but it adds no real value to the company, they would have done better using the 2 months to identify a replacement, and sue him for monetary damages on the breach of contract (if Canadian law allows for such damages) I find this surprising from the new CEO, he's always seemed like someone with a more realistic mindset.

RE: Good
By hughlle on 3/26/2014 3:17:16 PM , Rating: 4
Except for the fact that he now has 6 months to prove just why apple really want him. If he takes the attitude of **** it, and this reflects in his work, then that apple job might not be available when he's ready, or any job for that matter.

It rather works both ways. It would be rather silly for him to noew give 6 months of not giving a ****, as that will be very detrimental to his future employment. He's already dented that one by showing just how loyal an employee he is. Right now he is n damage control, and not doing his job properly is not going to help one bit.

RE: Good
By bah12 on 3/27/2014 9:33:11 AM , Rating: 2
Except if Apple really did poach him, then they don't give a crap about his loyalty since it obvious he can be bought. And if he had a brain cell one, he already disclosed the potential contract issue to Apple.

Bottom line in the tech field, if you want to keep your good people pay them well so jumping ship isn't an option. Or in BB's case run a good company so every VP and above doesn't read the writing on the wall and jump ship early. Face it any manager that is privy to the monthly P&L's should be looking for options, BB future is grim at best and if you expect people to go down with the ship you'd be delusional.

RE: Good
By robinthakur on 3/28/2014 7:30:31 AM , Rating: 2
I tend to think that this simply serves to underscore that so many executives are leaving Blackberry at this time (though I still come across the odd contract job they are trying to fill) for a very good reason. From Blackberrys perspective, they want to retain their top staff and therefore this move is probably more to do with sending a message to other key staff that they will hold you to the terms of your employment regarding notice period, should you want to leave for other potential ship-jumpers. There are many subtle ways to damage a company that you don't enjoy working for, though with Blackberry's brand having fallen into the gutter, his options are limited. Maybe he could just turn up to work every day and block all the toilets with paper towels :)

RE: Good
By bsd228 on 3/26/2014 2:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
You don't think the logic failure in insisting on an unmotivated employee being forced to stay on to protect the interests of the front line workers? The court apparently (not in California, mind you) can force him to stay, but they can't force him to give a damn. That's not "strong leadership."

Few non compete clauses in contracts would stand up here in California. Most are illegal, and often counterproductive to both parties.

RE: Good
By sigmatau on 3/26/2014 2:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
A contract cannot force you to do anything you don't want to. If he wants to break the contract, he simply has to pay monetarily for it.

RE: Good
By melgross on 3/26/2014 3:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, this entire thing on the part of Blackberry is very strange. Normally, if there's a contract with a timeline, such as this one, there is a penalty exacted if the employee wants to leave. It isn't possible to stop someone from leaving without making it so onerous, usually financially, that they wouldn't even think of it. Or, they could make a deal with the other company where they would wait, then hand in their resignation.

I had 85 employees in my second company. I wouldn't want someone working for me who wanted to leave so badly.

Blackberry has already described him as their "former employee", so they understand that they aren't going to force him to abide by the contract's timeline. They now just want him to not work for Apple until that timeline ends.

As he was negotiating with both Blackberry and Apple at the same time, I imagine that taking the offer at Blackberry was a backup in case the negotiations with Apple failed. This isn't an uncommon thing. It happens all the time. But in this case, a timeline was required by Blackberry. I suppose they were so concerned about the large number of executives leaving that they really wanted to keep him.

This whole thing is an embarrassment for Blackberry. It isn't going to help them. They are lucky this is taking place in Canada, as I doubt the court would have concluded the same thing here. More likely, they would consider this no way out contract to be an indentured position, which is illegal in the USA.

RE: Good
By sigmatau on 3/26/2014 4:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
"More likely, they would consider this no way out contract to be an indentured position , which is illegal in the USA. "

Exactly. I wonder what it would cost to break the contract. Is it so much higher than what Apple is paying him? I am guessing he simply wants to abandon a sinking ship even if the compensation from Blackberry is higher.

RE: Good
By GotThumbs on 3/26/2014 4:16:31 PM , Rating: 4

The problem seems to be that not many of the commenters here understand the concept of a contract or the commitment one makes when signing on the dotted line of a contract. It's evidence of a mutual promise to follow through on the agreed terms.

I believe it shows a lack of ethical character if you think the contract was not binding. If a buyout clause was part of the contract, then that would have been an option. As it stands, there was no buyout option. If he were to ask for one, he probably would not have gotten the raise/promotion to begin with.

BB went on a limb giving this man a raise/promotion when the company had frozen promotions throughout the company for others. Because they went out on a limb to do this on good faith....they expect him to follow through on his commitment.

He is the one who should have better understood what he was signing IMO.

Apple may want to consider the fact that this guy was playing games and failed to fully understand what he was committing to when he signed the contract with BB.

In the US, this kind of BS may be common or easly accepted, but that's simply a reflection on the low moral/ethical character of the US society IMO.

Canada holds a higher standard apparently, as they expect an adult to follow through on his/her commitments.

If the man does anything contrary to protecting/benefiting BB, then he could be held liable for something similar to sabotage and then be liable for damages to BB.

He would be dumber than he already does, to do anything to hurt BB, as it would damage his reputation more IMO.

BB will be keeping an eye on him and making sure they get their moneys worth.

Nice to see Canada's justice system still believes in justice.

I wish the US would do the same.

~Best wishes on keeping what you earned.

RE: Good
By TheStoryUp on 3/26/2014 4:40:52 PM , Rating: 1
I think everyone here is off base on why BlackBerry did this. It's to set an example to the other employees that this type of action will not be tolerated. I'm sure this guy isn't the only one debating on leaving the company, and if one guy gets away with it then the rest of the employees will think they can get away with it too.

RE: Good
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/2014 6:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
Oh right, I see. So people should be forced to go down with the ship and eventually get laid off with all the grace of a sudden boot up their ass.

Brilliant thinking there...

RE: Good
By Makaveli on 3/26/2014 7:23:46 PM , Rating: 2
I'll just leave this here.

Some of you may want to read it.

RE: Good
By sigmatau on 3/26/2014 8:01:18 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for that. It appears that the company can't do anything except make him wait 6 months before joining Apple. They cannot force him to work. That is the most obnoxious thing I've heard. Anything over six months would not have held up in court.

I doubt it, but I wonder if he can volunteer at Apple for the six months.

RE: Good
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/14, Rating: -1
RE: Good
By sigmatau on 3/26/2014 6:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
So basically you are saying that Canada believes in indentured servitude. That would be very sad if Canada has such unethical laws. How exactly would they enforce him to work for Blackberry? This is a civil contract, not criminal punishment for something he was found guilty.

You can raise all the moral questions you want, but when it comes down to it this is a civil contract. If I say I will cut your tree down for $1000 and you pay me the $1000 before I cut it down and then I refuse to cut it down. Then, you cannot force me to cut down your tree. You can only get your $1000 back, maybe with some interest if that.

RE: Good
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/2014 6:42:39 PM , Rating: 1
Canada holds a higher standard apparently

And they say America is run by the corporations! Ha!

Higher standard? Sounds like corporate slavery to me.

RE: Good
By sigmatau on 3/26/2014 7:07:09 PM , Rating: 1
That is exactly what he is saying. How would a court even enforce this civil contract in his terms? Would they actually send police to his job site? Would they jail him if he didn't work? Sounds like a 3rd world country to me.

I don't think they know the definition of a civil contract.

RE: Good
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/2014 9:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
Are civil contracts like uber legally binding there or something? Wtf lol.

These people act like he's a criminal!

RE: Good
By ritualm on 3/27/2014 5:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
He can no longer be trusted to uphold the terms of a contract. Try putting a dollar figure on THAT.

Dude's professional reputation is finished, and not even Tim Cook can save him.

RE: Good
By Reclaimer77 on 3/27/2014 5:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
Contract smontrack. You go to work, do your job, then go home. And when you want to work for someone else, you go do that.

Professional reputation? Dude Apple KNEW about this contract, of course, and STILL tried to hire him. They didn't think he was scum of the universe apparently. I'll bet you real money he's not finished at all, and will still land high paying positions elsewhere.

RE: Good
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/2014 6:26:58 PM , Rating: 2
He's the SVP of Software. He didn't make the decisions that ran RIM, now BlackBerry, into the ground. Right?

So why should he be punished and have his potential limited? I certainly wouldn't appreciate that, and I KNOW you wouldn't.

When people like this accept senior positions with the intention of jumping ship, they're jeopardizing the livelihoods of real people.

No offense, but that's absurd. Jeopardizing the livelihoods of people? Please prove that, I would love to see you back this hyperbole up.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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