I’d say, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but that would take all the urgency and disruption out of Netflix’s latest hiring legal dust-up.
Two years ago, Fox took the well-paying streamer to court for poaching two executives still under contract and now Viacom are making the same move over Momita SenGupta joining Netflix as VP of physical production for original series.
“Netflix was aware that Sengupta was under a term Employment Agreement with Viacom,” the October 5 filing in L.A. Superior Court and now before Judge Richard Rico states (read it here). “Despite that fact, and flouting well-settled law that applies to all who do business in California, Netflix engaged in an illegal course of dealing designed to tortiously induce Sengupta to breach her Employment Agreement with Viacom so that she could commence employment with Netflix immediately,” it adds of the former EVP in Viacom’s Production Management, who was under contract until April 2020.
“Viacom is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that Netflix even promised Sengupta that it would defend and indemnify her and pay for her legal representation should Viacom seek to enforce its legal rights,” the paperwork from Proskauer Rose LLP’s Anthony Oncidi and Pietro Deserio asserts. “Netflix has signaled that it has no intention of complying with the law, and that its illegal attempts to induce Viacom employees to break their contracts without consequence will not be limited to Sengupta,” the Redstone hired attorneys add. “Viacom is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that Netflix has illegally induced employees to breach contracts with other industry employers, at least one of whom is pursuing court enforcement of its rights.
That last line is a clear reference to the Fox matter, which is scheduled to go to trial next year in what could actually become a battle royale between new boss Disney and the ever expanding streamer. On this new-ish matter, like in the on-going previous one, Netflix aren’t backing down and aren’t looking for an easy out, at least not yet.
“Netflix intends to vigorously defend against this action as we believe this contract as well as the legacy studio employment practices underlying it create unenforceable obligations under California law,” the employment aggressive and top compensating streamer responded to the October 5 filed suit. As of today, Netflix has not filed a formal reaction with the Los Angeles Superior Court over Viacom’s demands for damage and a judicial halt button to be hit on any more snaring of its employees by the streamer.
“We believe the employment contracts we use are valid under California law, and that other companies may not solicit and induce employees to break them,” a Viacom spokesperson said today of the two claim complaint. “We think Netflix should be required to play by the same rules as every other company doing business in California, and we are taking the steps necessary to ensure they do.”
Umm, guys, that’s what Fox said when Netflix brought Marcos Waltenberg and Tara Flynn onboard. The duo are still working at Netflix today, the lawyers are still getting paid and the case is still going on – just like it likely will here with no win in sight.