Jury orders Seagate to pay $1.9M to former employee

Engineer charged Seagate hired him for phantom job to help it sell Advanced Technology Group

A federal jury this month awarded awarded a former Seagate Technology engineer $1.9 million, in a wrongful employment case.

Chandramouli Vaidyanathan had sought $2.7 million in damages , contending that he had to uproot his family to take a job at Seagate's Advanced technology Group facility in Minnesota for a job that didn't exist.

Vaidyanathan had been working for Texas Instruments in Dallas in 2008 when he took a job with Seagate as a yield engineer, a position that focuses on improving product engineering during the manufacturing stage.

In order to take the position at Seagate, Vaidyanathan stated that he had quit his position at Texas Instruments and moved his wife and two school-aged children to Minnesota.

When Vaidyanathan arrived in Minnesota, however, the solid state disk product he was hired to work on during manufacturing was still in early development, according to the Brent Snyder, an attorney in the law firm of Snyder & Brandt, which represented Vaidyanathan. He was laid off nine months later, Snyder said.

"The reason that was given is that he was hired to be a yield engineer but the project never came to fruition," Snyder said. "They didn't care what effect it had on his career."

Seagate declined to comment on the case, which was heard earlier this month in U.S. District Court in St Paul, Minn. Seagate, based in Scotts Valley, Calif., employs 2,800 workers at two facilities in the Twin Cities area.

According to Snyder, Seagate contended that when Vaidyanathan was hired, the company was attempting to sell or find a business partner for the Advanced Technologies Group.

"The obvious question is why," Synder said. "It was beneficial for them [Seagate] to have a yield engineer on staff to give the appearance of a complete organization with a project that was further along in development. They were not able to sell or find a partner for the ATG group despite having him on board as the place-holder yield engineer."

The basis for the case is a Minnesota statute that makes it illegal to induce "any person to change from any place in any state, territory or country to any place in this state to work in any branch of labor through or by means of knowingly false representations."

A person induced to change a place of employment can recover damages and attorney's fees under the statute.

The amount of time Vaidyanathan was away from his chosen profession, both at Seagate and during the litigation, ended his career as a yield engineer, Snyder said.

Vaidyanathan has since started his own alternate energy company, Mouli Engineering Inc., and now installs solar panels on commercial and residential buildings.

"It's a growing business, but it's a fraction of the income he earned as a yield engineer," Snyder said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentcareersIT managementstoragetexas instrumentsGovernment/IndustriesSeagate Technology

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucas Mearian

Lucas Mearian

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?