Federal judge rejects settlement in tech company hiring case

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Friday rejected a bid by Adobe Systems Inc., Apple, Google and Intel [corporate websites] to settle ongoing antitrust litigation brought by employees in the technology industry. The corporations filed a motion in June requesting the leave of the court to settle the lawsuit [motion, PDF] for $324.5 million. Judge Lucy Koh rejected the settlement [order, PDF], stating that the strength of the case against the companies and the companies' alleged central role in the conspiracy made the proposed settlement far too low. According to reports, the plaintiffs had planned to request $3 billion in damages [Reuters report] at trial, which would have tripled to $9 billion under the Clayton Antitrust Act [USDOJ backgrounder]. The next hearing in the litigation is scheduled for September 10.

The In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation [docket] lawsuit, brought in 2011, alleged that Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Lucasfilm Ltd., Intuit Inc. and Pixar [corporate websites] engaged in a conspiracy to fix the compensation [amended complaint, PDF] of their employees at artificially low levels. Additionally, the companies agreed not to "poach" each others' employees, or engage in cold-calling competitors' employees to entice them to work for the "poaching" company with the lure of higher wages and better benefits. According to the complaint, cold-calling is the primary means by which technology companies recruit employees, since experienced technology employees are in such high demand.

 

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