Seagate Loses Suit to ‘Wrongfully Hired’ Engineer

When Chandramouli Vaidyanathan quit his job to take a position with Seagate Technologies, and was later laid off, he sued and eventually won $1.9 million in damages. The jury found that Seagate had violated a little known Minnesota law dealing with “False Statements as Inducement to Entering Employment.”

Human Resource Legal Resource reports that Vaidyanathan initially accepted a position he thought was the lead for Seagate’s Yield Engineering Team. He later discovered that the position was not what he’d been led to expect. He was transferred to another job before being laid off.

In Vaidyanathan’s case, the evidence established that Seagate made a clear and definite promise to Vaidyanathan that his job would be to lead the company’s yield engineering team. According to the Court, Seagate’s promise was, however, “made, in part, out of ignorance and a lack of sufficient information,” and Vaidyanathan testified that he never did any yield engineering work for Seagate.

After a seven-day trial, the jury concluded that Seagate knowingly made false representations to Vaidyanathan about the kind and character of his work and that Seagate’s misrepresentation induced him to take the job and move to Minnesota from Texas. The jury then awarded Vaidyanathan, whose starting salary had been $126,048.00, $1.9 million in damages.

After all the dust settled from the trial and post trial motions and counter motions, Seagate’s total liability to Vaidyanathan sits at $2.4 million.

I know that a lot of us have had our share of run ins with misleading hiring practices, but this is definitely a cautionary tale that I’m sure is sending shock waves through the hiring community, especially those doing business in Minnesota.

No Responses to “Seagate Loses Suit to ‘Wrongfully Hired’ Engineer”

  1. Walter Miller

    I agree with @James Green. Too long have workers in general been taken advantage of. I just wish other states adopted this upfront honesty required of companies in their hiring practices. I too have been lied about what specific jobs were. One job in particular I was hired to roll out a software upgrade. I was to call each location, notify them of the new update, and inform them how it would make their operations run smoother. When asked by the customer if it would cost them any more on their current contract (note some had 3 year contracts) I was told by the supervisor it would not. However I found out by a customer calling back to complain how its now costing him over $100 more a month since the upgrade. What the story was here once the customer accepted the upgrade and had it remotely installed his current contract became void and a new contract replaced it. When I confronted my supervisor about that he said what he told me was the truth however the contract did become void when accepting the new upgrade. So in my future calls to other customers I told them how they would be charged more and many then refused to accept the upgrade. Guess what the company did they drummed up the charge that I engaged In some sort of sexual harassment and was fired from the job. It turned out to be a very dirty and shady company to work for.

    In another case a company I was working for was downsizing however to keep the government off their backs about targeting specific sex and age groups they published a list of how many people by age and sex were to be let go. The key word here is … were to be … not … will be. When the layoff day came, it really only affected those over 45 years of age. It was discovered that all the younger employees were reassigned different job classification and titles. It was this way the company could skirt the law. Checking with a lawyer about suing for age discrimination he sighted the Supreme Court decision in June 19, 2009 which makes the burden of proof harder on the employee rather than the employer.

    So I am at least glad someone finally won

  2. Jorgen Harmse

    I understand that some people are frustrated by their own experiences and are glad that an employee ‘finally won’. I don’t understand the award of $1,900,000. Presumably Vaidyanathan’s previous salary was about what Seagate paid him. If his total compensation was about $200,000 and it takes two years to put his career back on track then the actual damages are more like $400,000.

  3. Mick Marrs

    Unfortunately he is one of the lucky ones. How many people have people have been induced to change jobs, internally and externally without the benefit of the true reason the job was vacant or what to expect.

    You can have all the right questions and you can also verify with those around you, but in the end you never know the hiring managers true intentions. Remember these people are managers because their expert political skills.

    Like someone once told me, better the devil you know. Every job move is a RISK, internally and externally so you better make sure the risk premium is there otherwise don’t move, the grass is not always greener, it just seems that way.

  4. Call me a skeptic but I think we are only going to see companies get MORE VAGUE about job descriptions. More laundry lists of arcane skills and competencies, less about what the employee is required to do. This way it will be easy to fire.

    I hope I am proven wrong though. Kudos to Mr Vaidyanathan! We desperately need serious job market reform.

  5. OffshoredMan

    Maybe a few years ago I should’ve recorded a conversation with my supervisor/manager when I was promised excellent job prospects, and all I got was my regular paycheck untill the job was offshored…
    In any case, be extra cautious with IT companies that move jobs off-shore! What you might be thinking can nothing to do with the real intentions and plans of your employer.