Trade union loses cartel case against IBM, Maersk

COPENHAGEN – Former IBM employee Claus Bobjerg Juul and Danish trade union Prosa have lost a case against IBM that charged the company with creating a secret cartel limiting workers’ abilities to change jobs.

The Danish Eastern High Court did not see sufficient evidence that an agreement between IBM and A.P. Moller-Maersk limited Bobjerg Juul’s opportunities in the job market. Under the agreement, the two companies promised not to recruit each other’s employees.

Bobjerg Juul worked as an IT security consultant at IBM but criticized the company’s policy on the job agreements, which caused IBM to fire him for disloyalty. He subsequently sued for damages, claiming that his dismissal was unjustified, and was awarded full compensation.

Prosa had asked for 200,000 Danish krones (US$34,594) in compensation but was instead ordered to pay 30,000 Danish krones in legal costs.The plaintiffs say they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Danish High Court has previously decided that these agreements conflict with the main collective agreement between the Confederation of Danish Employers and the Danish Federation of Trade Unions.

“I am deeply disappointed that we did not win, but those are the circumstances,” Bobjerg Juul said after the trial. “If all the big players are free to enter into such agreements, it becomes impossible to find new employment because everyone will be afraid to recruit new employees, fearing that they are breaking an agreement. And the Danish IT job market is not that big,” he said.

“For some reason, a number of significant matters presented during the trial are not included in the judgment. It seems to me that the judges lack understanding of the greater context of this case,” Bobjerg Juul said.

“It is incredibly frustrating that the High Court finds it fair that the employee should carry the entire burden of proof alone even though the counterpart has access to all the evidence,” said Hanne Lykke Jespersen, head of Prosa’s legal department.

She believes the High Court neglected to decide upon key elements in the case.

“The judgment looks right because it omits all statements in our favor. That is a serious accusation but it is actually true,” says Hanne Lykke Jespersen.

IBM offered a brief reaction. “We are satisfied with the decision. We are now going to study the judgment and have no further comments at this stage,” said publicity manager Louise Neel H

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