Judge grants $415 million settlement in anti-poaching suit against tech companies

We've brought you news about Apple's lawsuits over patent infringement before. This latest lawsuit is from the other side of the industry. This time, workers from various tech companies including Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., and Adobe Systems Inc. have come forward saying that these companies made illegal agreements with each other not to hire new employees coming from one of the said companies. This effectively ended the ability for all of those employees to leverage outside opportunities for better positions within their own companies.

This is only a settlement, which means that the companies have offered a sum to placate the petitioning employees instead of trying their hand at a long and drawn out trial.

The settlement has already taken its sweet time in court. Before this, the presiding Judge Lucy Koh rejected the first settlement offer of $324 million USD. The judge claimed that it wasn't enough to make up for all of the employees' lost wages forgone by stalled careers. She recommended last that the companies should pay a minimum of $380 million USD to reach an agreement. Luckily for the group of employees, the tech companies came back with an offer for $415 million USD.

By enacting an illegal no-poaching agreement, these companies effectively capped the positions of everyone they hired. This guaranteed that the industry standard for wages never had to increase due to competition within Silicon Valley. We don't have many details, but Judge Lucy Koh stated she had seen "ample evidence of an overarching conspiracy" amidst the companies.

With a non-poaching deals at play, even a programming or engineering position can turn into a dead-end job when salary is limited and beyond negotiation. Without a competitive job market, each company has little incentive to make efforts in retaining their employees because the employees have nowhere else to go. This landmark settlement still isn't decided yet. Employees with have to wait another three months for the settlement to be finalized.

Source: Associated Press