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Fox Sues Netflix for Poaching Studio Execs

Two of 21st Century Fox’s movie units have sued Netflix for poaching their employees.

The complaint, filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, charges Netflix with intentional interference with contractual relations and unfair competition.

According to the suit, Twentieth Century Fox Film Co. had an exclusive employment agreement with Marcos Waltenberg, VP promotions, that ran through the end of 2016 and could be extended until the end of 2018.

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Fox 21 had an agreement with Tara Flynn to serve as executive creative director. She was promoted to VP, creative, the suit says. Her agreement runs through Nov. 19.

Fox says it learned in the fall of 2015 that Waltenberg intended to join Netflix. Fox reminded that he had an agreement, but Netflix hired him anyway.

In August, Fox said it learned that Flynn intended to move to Netflix. Fox told Netflix she had an employment agreement and Fox said Netflix interfered with its employment agreement by hiring her also.

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Fox is seeking a permanent injunction that would prevent Netflix from interfering with its employees. It also wants unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“As our complaint explains, we filed this lawsuit because we believe Netflix is defiantly flouting the law by soliciting and inducing employees to break their contracts.  We intend to seek all available remedies to enforce our rights and hold Netflix accountable for its wrongful behavior,” a Fox spokesman said.

A Netflix spokesperson said: "We intend to defend this lawsuit vigorously. We do not believe Fox's use of fixed term employment contracts in this manner are enforceable.  We believe in employee mobility and will fight for the right to hire great colleagues no matter where they work"

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.