Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), along with other Silicon Valley tech giants, will be paying about $415 million in settlement of an anti-poaching class action suit filed against it in 2011 by tech employees, accusing the companies of collusion that violated their rightful interests as workers.
In a court filing, the plaintiffs noted that their job mobility was adversely affected by the conspiracy between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), and Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE). The antitrust lawsuit was filed by the companies’ former employees numbering about more than 64,000, who accused the companies of implementing an “interconnected web” of agreements that stipulated against hiring each other’s staff from 2005 to 2009, effectively keeping their salaries low.
The plaintiffs presented the case on evidence of the late Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs personally exchanging emails with former Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) CEO Eric Schmidt. The emails allegedly centered on informal agreements regarding the poaching of an Apple engineer, and the companies supposedly exchanged lists of workers that should not be poached. According to the court filing, Jobs’ email to Schmidt indicates a no-poaching deal between the companies. “”I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this,” Jobs email to Schmidt dated March 7, 2007 said, asking the former Google executive not to hire Apple engineers. Google afterwards fired its recruiting officer for attempting to hire the Apple engineer concerned, saying the company has a standing policy of not hiring from Apple, and Google’s staffing director apologized to Jobs saying it was an isolated incident.
The lawsuit asked for damage compensation amounting to $3 billion. However, lawyers representing the workers agreed for a settlement on account of the difficulty in proving the issue of conspiracy between the companies. Earlier in August last year, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected a $325.4 million settlement offer as too low, arguing that a re-appraised figure should be at least $380 million. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), along with Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), and Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) agreed to pay $415 million, $90 million more than the original offer rejected by the court. The court has yet to approve the settlement even as the companies deny any wrongdoing on their part. “We deny the allegations contained in the suit and we deny that we violated any laws or that we have any obligation to the plaintiff,” Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said in an email to tech blog CNET.
This article has been written by Nonito Guntan.