“Four large technology companies should not be allowed to limit evidence about Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs at an upcoming trial over no-hire agreements in Silicon Valley, according to a court document filed late on Thursday by employees suing the firms,” Dan Levine reports for Reuters. “Tech workers brought a class action lawsuit against Apple, Google Inc, Intel Inc and Adobe Systems Inc in 2011, alleging they conspired to avoid competing for each other’s employees in order to avert a salary war. Trial is scheduled to begin at the end of May on behalf of roughly 64,000 workers in the class, and plaintiffs say damages could top $3 billion.”

“The case, which is closely watched in Silicon Valley, is largely built on emails among top executives, including Apple’s late chief executive Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt,” Levine reports. “In one instance, after a Google recruiter solicited an Apple employee, Schmidt told Jobs that the recruiter would be fired, court documents show. Jobs then forwarded Schmidt’s note to a top Apple human resources executive with a smiley face appended.”

Levine reports, “Additionally, the plaintiffs seek to introduce evidence about the personal wealth of executives like Google co-founder Sergey Brin – and how it could be enhanced by holding down workers’ salaries and boosting margins, according to the filing.”

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