Apple, Google reach new settlement in high-tech wage case

AP News
|
Posted: Jan 14, 2015 1:56 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A revised settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit alleging Apple and Google conspired with other Silicon Valley companies to block more than 60,000 high-tech employees from getting better job offers.

The terms of the new agreement weren't disclosed in a letter filed Tuesday with an appeals court in San Francisco. Donald Falk, a lawyer who filed the letter on behalf of Google Inc., declined to comment Wednesday.

The new settlement comes five months after U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected an earlier deal that would have required Apple Inc., Google, Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. to pay $324.5 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging the companies secretly agreed not to recruit each other's workers.

Koh concluded the evidence in the case warranted a payment of at least $380 million.

The new amount in the settlement is expected to be filed with Koh's court "imminently," according to Falk's letter. The settlement notice was initially filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because Apple, Google and the other companies were challenging Koh's ruling tossing out the previous settlement.

Lawyers representing the high-tech employees didn't immediately respond to Wednesday requests for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in 2011, attracted widespread attention because it provided a behind-the-scenes peek at the tactics of Apple's late CEO, Steve Jobs, and the power he wielded over technology executives, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Depositions and internal emails cast Jobs as the ringleader of a scheme designed to corral talented computer engineers and applications designed at their current jobs. The alleged collusion prevented already high-paid tech workers from being offered even more money from other employers, according to the lawsuits.

Besides Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe, the lawsuit alleged Intuit Inc., Pixar Animation Studios and Lucasfilm had joined in the "no-poaching" agreement over a period that spanned from 2005 to 2009. Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm reached a $20 million settlement that Koh approved last year.

The complaint initially sought $3 billion in damages. Under antitrust law, that bill could have been tripled to $9 billion had a jury sided with the workers represented in the case.

The lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial in April.