For the past three years, Netflix and Fox have been embroiled in a heated legal battle over employee contracts. Monday morning, Superior Court of California Judge Marc Gross sided with Fox, handing down a judgment forbidding Netflix from continuing to "poach" employees from the Disney-owned company. The lawsuit goes back to 2016, when Netflix hired production executive Tara Flynn and marketing exec Marcos Waltenberg from Fox. At the time, Fox accused the streaming giant of convincing the pair to break the long-term contracts they had in place.
In his ruling handed down Monday, Gross ordered Netflix to stop soliciting employees under the aforementioned contracts. “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,” Gross said in his 48-page ruling.
Immediately after the ruling, Netflix seemingly confirmed its intention on appealing the ruling. “As Judge Gross wrote, Fox failed to prove it was hurt in any way when two executives decided to exercise their right to go to Netflix,” the company said in a statement (via Variety.) “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.”
The lawsuit was in place to prove a point, more than anything. In the initial suit filed, Fox demanded just $1 in damages. With such a nominal amount, Gross refused to rule on the damages and suggested the lawsuit be moved to a jury trial to assess damages. It's unlikely the two sides will pursue something of that nature, dependent on Netflix's potential appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court.
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