Dreamworks, Disney and other studios are the targets of a new lawsuit alleging the companies agreed not to poach each others’ visual effects artists.
In a complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, plaintiff Robert A. Nitsch, Jr. also names Pixar, Lucasfilm, Digital Domain 3.0, ImageMovers, ImageMovers Digital, Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks. The complaint says the studios "secretly agreed to work together to deprive thousands of their workers of better wages and opportunities to advance their careers at other companies."
Nitsch, according to the complaint, was a Senior Character Effects Artist at DreamWorks Animation from 2007 to 2011 and a Technical Director at Sony Pictures Imageworks during 2004 and is now a resident of Massachusetts.
The 27-page complaint says the late Apple founder Steve Jobs and filmmaker George Lucas started the conspiracy when Jobs bought Lucasfilm’s computer graphics division and created Pixar:
With Jobs as its CEO, Pixar agreed with Lucasfilm that (a) they would not cold call each other’s employees; (b) they would notify the other company when making an offer to an employee of the other company, if that employee applied for a job notwithstanding the agreement not to cold call; and (c) the company making such an offer would not increase its offer if the company currently employing the employee made a counteroffer.
These types of "anti-competitive agreements" would spread throughout the industry, says the complaint, adding that years later, Jobs and Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenburg discussed so-called “no-raid” agreements between their companies.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times and Variety – Disney, which now owns Pixar and Lucasfilm, called the complaint “utterly without merit” and vowed to defend itself vigorously. Variety reports spokespersons for Dreamworks and Sony had no immediate comment.