GRP Rainer LLP

Headhunting of Employees via Social Networks Potentially Anti-Competitive

Businesses are increasingly confronted with the problem of finding qualified senior managers. The search for specialist personnel via social networks therefore appears more and more attractive.


Cologne, NRW -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/22/2013 -- GRP Rainer Lawyers Tax Advisors, Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London explain: The trend towards primarily studied specialists who have acquired their expertise in Germany emigrating abroad seems to be ongoing. German businesses are therefore increasingly reliant on not only passively waiting for qualified applications but even actively hiring potential employees.

However, the Heidelberg Regional Court clarified in its judgment of 23 May 2012 (Az. 1 S 58/11) that such an approach can potentially be anti-competitive. The ruling is based on an employment services company’s application for an injunction against a competitor, who had allegedly tried to headhunt the employees of the employment services provider via a social network.

Millions of German academics are now registered on social networks. There, they foster social and corporate contacts and share personal data in self-made profiles. This type of distinct presentation is now also used by businesses.

Problems can arise when these professional business profiles are used to actively headhunt employees of competitors. In doing so, businesses could thus run the risk of carrying out permitted headhunting of employees in an inadmissible way.

The Court is of the view that, even where the business account is declared as “private”, specifically targeted job offers aimed at employees of competitors can be assessed as anti-competitive infringements. Job offers could in particular, according to the Court’s opinion, fall within the field of unfair competition if the attempt to headhunt is in pursuit of a reprehensible purpose.

Should businesses desire to recruit employees within the framework of their professional company presentations on social networks, care should be taken not to infringe the Act Against Unfair Competition (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb (UWG)).

Seek legal advice from a lawyer active in the field of intellectual property, in order to stay on the right side of the law. The lawyer will also offer support if claims have already been raised against you.

About GRP Rainer LLP
GRP Rainer LLP is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Nuremberg and London UK.

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