BlackBerry Executive Ordered to Fulfill 6-Month Resignation Term Before Leaving for Apple
March 26, 2014 1:46 PM
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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.
, 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.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
3/26/2014 3:55:42 PM
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.
3/26/2014 4:04:01 PM
"More likely, they would consider this no way out contract to be an
, 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.
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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