Netflix has been ordered to stop poaching Fox executive employees. Fox set out three years ago to stop the streaming giant from "raiding" its employees. Netflix was attempting to dismantle Fox's Fixed-Term Employment Agreements and "argued that they locked employees into jobs they no longer wanted." They went on to claim that the agreements were unlawful and created a "form of involuntary servitude." Had the streaming platform won, it would have been a huge win for employees when negotiating with employers over contracts in California. An appeal is expected to come down the line at some point in the near future.
Judge Marc Gross issued a tentative ruling two weeks ago barring Netflix's attempt to challenge Fox's employment contracts. Now the ruling is final. The court finds Netflix "shall not solicit employees who are subject to valid Fixed-Term Employment Agreements with Fox or induce such employees to breach their valid Fixed-Term Employment Agreements with Fox." Fox lead lawyer Daniel Petrocelli had this to say.
"Today's ruling by the Court brings to an end years of unlawful practices by Netflix. The Court's decision not only condemns Netflix's deliberate violations of the law, but just as importantly, reaffirms and protects the rights and choices of employees."
Fox studio executives Tara Flynn and Marcos Waltenberg went over to Netflix in 2016 and were offered an opportunity to double their salaries. The streaming platform lured them over, along with 14 other Fox employees, after they were told they would be shielded from any legal repercussions for breaking their contracts with Fox. These were deals that these executives could not turn down and were more than likely safe bets with the long-talked about Disney acquisition on the way. The deal finally closed earlier this year and left many Fox employees without a job.
Netflix benefitted greatly by having entertainment executives from Fox on their team. For many, this seems like a massive loss for the streaming platform, but they remain undeterred, though this will continue to be an uphill battle. Netflix released a statement noting that this battle is far from over. You can read the statement below.
"Fox's illegal contracts force employees to remain trapped in jobs they no longer wish to do and at salaries far below market rate. We will continue to fight to make sure that people who work in the entertainment industry have the same rights as virtually every other Californian and can make their own choices about where they work."
This isn't only a win for Fox. This win prohibits Netflix from doing the same thing to other major Hollywood studios. Paramount Pictures owner Viacom, which recently combined with CBS, sued Netflix in 2018 for the same thing. Viacom has said it would suffer "irreparable harm" if the streaming platform was able to continue "raiding" its workforce. The case has not yet made it to court as of this writing. Variety was the first to report on the Netflix vs. Fox court battle.