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Judge grants class-action status to Apple-Google anti-poaching suit

updated 05:03 pm EDT, Sat October 26, 2013

Plaintiffs claim wages, opportunities hurt by agreement

Over 64,000 top technical, engineer and other skilled workers will get their chance in court to prove that an informal anti-poaching agreement between Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe harmed them through lost opportunities for advancement and higher pay. The plaintiffs claim that the arrangement was an illegal conspiracy that aimed to hold down rising wages as well as prevent employees from taking advantage of other opportunities.

Back in April, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh had denied the case class-action status, saying that the group of workers hadn't shown concrete harm caused by the agreement. She was apparently convinced by additional information gathered by the plaintiffs and their lawyers since then, and reversed her previous ruling. There are, according to the lawyer for the group, up to 64,626 potential members of the class, mostly high-tech workers, skilled creatives and engineers.

Three other companies initially named in the complaint have already settled charges against them. Judge Koh is expected to approve a settlement between the group and Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm, all of which will pay a total of $9 million to resolve antitrust claims.

Still named in the ongoing case is Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, though his exact role in what the plaintiffs call an "overarching conspiracy" among the companies is unclear. It is known that he wrote specifically to Google then-CEO Eric Schmidt in 2007 asking that Schmidt call off a Google recruiter who was trying to woo away an Apple employee. Whether that was an isolated incident (as it would appear) or part of what developed into a wider informal agreement among tech companies has yet to be established.

by MacNN Staff



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