Netflix ups legal ante, countersues Fox in employee-tampering case

|By:, SA News Editor

Netflix (NFLX +2.6%) has countersued Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +1%, FOXA +0.6%) in an employment dispute, claiming that the latter's fixed-term worker contracts are unenforceable.

Fox had filed an uncommon tampering suit against the streaming giant in September, saying Netflix had poached two executives under contract (Tara Flynn and Marcos Waltenberg).

At the time, Netflix said it would mount a vigorous defense. And it now says Fox is bullying employees with "take it or leave it" deals that amount to "involuntary servitude," and that it will be aiming to recruit more of Fox's employees, even as its entertainment-industry stature grows.

"Through its widespread use of unlawful restrictive fixed-term employment agreements, Fox is facilitating and enforcing a system that restrains employee mobility, depresses compensation levels, and creates unlawful barriers to entry for Netflix and others competing in the film and television production business in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 16600," Netflix's action says.