updated 11:25 am EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Failure to reach settlement could cost high-tech industry $9 billion
Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe are among the high-tech companies working to settle a class action lawsuit over their hiring practices within the next several weeks, according to the New York Times. The suit covers some 100,000 people, and alleges that anti-poaching policies agreed to between the companies deprived workers of higher wages they would've got had the businesses had been hiring competitively. If a settlement isn't reached, the firms could owe as much as $9 billion in damages, or $90,000 per person.
Both the high damage demands and the companies' willingness to settle are likely linked to the chain of evidence. Recently a set of emails from Apple and Google emerged, proving that those two companies, at least, agreed not to hire people away from each other beginning in 2005. A Google policy document suggests an even wider conspiracy, encompassing Microsoft, Comcast, Oracle, and others.
Also working in the plaintiffs' favor is a US Department of Justice investigation, which was settled in 2010. The anti-poaching policies appear to have been instigated in part by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who made "irate" calls to Google's Sergey Brin over the prospect of Google hiring away members of Apple's Safari team.