Silicon Valley Companies To Pay $325 Million To Settle Hiring Lawsuit

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In a major development, four major Silicon Valley companies have agreed to pay $324.5 million to settle claims of the employees who accused them of limiting competition by colluding not to poach each other’s talent.

The settlement, between the four companies, Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe Systems and roughly 64,000 workers, was disclosed in papers filed with a federal court in San Jose, California.

US District Judge Lucy Koh has been asked to preliminarily approve the accord at a June 19 hearing, over an objection by one of the four named plaintiffs, Michael Devine, who says the settlement let the companies off too easily.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are planning to seek up to 25% of the settlement amount in legal fees.

The lawsuit which was filed in 2011 accused Silicon Valley companies of conspiring to limit competition and keep wages down for engineers, programmers and other technical staff.

The case has been most talked about because of the potential $9 billion of damages sought and the embarrassing revelations about the operations of Silicon Valley companies.

The companies’ combined profit in their latest fiscal years was about $60 billion, with three-fifths coming from Apple.
Two law firms representing the plaintiffs said Devine’s objection should not doom what they consider a fair and reasonable settlement for an antitrust case, and which serves the best interests of the class.

They pointed to a July 2012 jury verdict in the same court that found Toshiba Corp conspired to fix prices in the liquid crystal display market but awarded just $87 million of damages, one-tenth of what was sought.

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