Apple, Google, other firms could pay ‘blindingly high’ $9 billion in anti-poaching suit

“A class-action lawsuit from tech sector employees against employers including Apple and Google seeks some $9 billion in lost wages — an astronomical sum that the complainants could ultimately receive, some believe, thanks to a mountain of evidence appearing to implicate Silicon Valley employers in an alleged no-hire cartel,” Neil Hughes reports for AppleInsider.

“About 100,000 employees are involved in the lawsuit, seeking a payment of about $90,000 per person — a payment The New York Times characterized this week as a ‘blindingly high number,'” Hughes reports. “But the employees are apparently confident in seeking $9 billion because the evidence against employers, who are accused of agreeing to anti-poaching agreements that may have been anticompetitive, and thus may have kept down employee wages.”

“As the class-action lawsuit progresses, strong evidence has emerged revealing that Apple, Google and others privately agreed to not recruit one another’s employees,” Hughes reports. “Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs himself placed a call to Google’s Sergey Brin in which he threatened ‘war’ over recruitment efforts from the rival company.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
A whiff of settlement in Silicon Valley anti-poaching case – March 28, 2014
Steve Jobs wasn’t okay with Google hiring even former Apple engineers – March 27, 2014
Judge Koh: 60,000 Silicon Valley workers may pursue collusion case against Apple, Google, others as group – January 14, 2014
Steve Jobs threatened patent suit to enforce no-hire policy, according to court filing – January 23, 2013
Judge Koh orders Apple CEO Tim Cook to four hours of questioning in anti-poaching case – January 17, 2013
Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm fail to get staff-poaching antitrust lawsuit dismissed – April 19, 2012
Court filing: Steve Jobs told Google’s Schmidt to stop poaching workers – January 27, 2012
Did Apple CEO Steve Jobs ask Palm’s Colligan to collude? – August 20, 2009
Did Apple and Google make an anti-poaching deal? – August 9, 2009

15 Comments

  1. Agreeing not to poach others employees doesn’t mean that it had any effect on employees pay, it’s a stretch.
    Say Google wanted to hire someone from Apple’s management team, what does that have to do with someone working in shipping and what he gets paid? Right, nothing.

    No company can stop an employee from leaving, all they can do is counter. If said employee was ACTUALLY approached, he/she has a choice. Doesn’t matter what agreement they came up with between the companies, it still is/was happening.

    Sure love those disgruntled “ex”employees don’t you. 😉

    1. We don’t always have to be Apple apologists, do we? One major contributor to salary increases is the fear of losing an employee. When they take away that threat, they have less incentive to give the employee a raise. People aren ‘t chattel. Just because you like your phone, Don ‘t be ok with corporations turning us into slaves .

    2. Assuming that the allegations are true, the conduct was outrageous as well as illegal. Obviously, if no employee could ask for a raise because he might be fired, and employees who quit would never work again in the industry, that has an effect on prevailing pay. What other reason would the companies have for doing this?

      Curious that some folks who oppose allowing the little guys to band together for collective bargaining have no problem with letting the big guys avoid individual bargaining by eliminating the free market for labor. Either we believe in allowing markets to regulate wages and prices or we don’t.

      1. I can’t tell you if they are true or illegal, that’s for the judges but as we know, anyone can sue anyone in this country at any time.
        I’m sorry but I disagree and you assume an employee couldn’t ask for a raise. Where in the article did it say that?
        A “threat” by an employee is not a reason to keep them or pay them more money. If an employee comes to management and asks for a raise, for whatever reason, it should be base off his “merits” wouldn’t you agree? Or should we pay the bad employees as much as the good ones?
        Have you never heard of a none-compete clause? Is that illegal? Should I sue? I don’t oppose collective bargaining. I also believe in free markets regulating wages and prices but I don’t believe employees threatening does ANYTHING for the free market or an employee has the intent to help the “market”, only themselves.
        I suggest you go start your own company and see how it feels to have an employee threaten you.

        1. You do understand that legal “non-compete clauses” are an element of the contract between employers and employees? The Silicon Valley employees involved in this case never agreed to be the indentured servants of their initial employer, unable to ever quit and go to work elsewhere in the industry.

          No, what we are talking about here is an agreement between employers not to compete. A and B agree not to hire each other’s former employees so they need not compete on wages and benefits. They allegedly did this to keep their labor costs down. That is generally called “a combination in restraint of free trade” and has been illegal in America since the 1890s. Just because Steve Jobs is the alleged perpetrator doesn’t make it any more lawful.

        2. As described, the contracts between the companies are anticompetitive per se and almost certainly illegal. Since the market price of an employee in a competitive market is set by supply and demand, collusion between labor purchasers would violate anti-trust laws.

          Anti-compete clauses are generally illegal in California, by the way.

  2. Punishing companies over bad behavior with outrageously excessive fines does what exactly? Take money away from investing in more stuff that creates more jobs resulting in a better economy? And who GETS this money? The endless money pit that is government? In this particular matter with several companies involved a simple “no-no,” warning and admonishment would probably suffice. Maybe also a re-clarification and enlightened edification of the rules.

    1. This is a rule that has basically existed for over 120 years. If the companies don’t understand that they cannot collude to avoid competition, no amount of “clarification” is going to help. The only way they can be enticed to avoid illegal conduct is to make it more expensive to break the law than to obey it. Corporations may be “legal persons” but they hold no moral principles apart from (hopefully enlightened) self-interest. The Standard Oil Trust was not dissolved by telling Mr. Rockefeller that it is not nice to create a monopoly, but by making noncompliance with the antitrust laws more costly than compliance.

    2. Funny, when Apple does all sorts of funny business to keep from paying taxes, Macdailynewsers keep telling us it is OK because it is legal. Now, when the company blatantly and knowingly breaks the law, it is “big bully government” beating up on “poor helpless company.” Does that mean it is OK for me to steal a thousand dollars from you and get off with a warning?

      1. Not a good analogy but taking excessive billions in fines from companies and giving it to the government, even from a morally correct point of view, does NOTHING to help the economy and in fact takes away “thousands of dollars” to other employee hires and individuals who might benefit.

        1. Um, the $9 Billion does not go to the government, according to this article: it would go directly to the people harmed. That is what a class action suit does.
          Now it may be that the government will also fine the companies. That would be a punitive measure designed to prevent future illegal activities. By itself, that would improve the economy by ensuring a more honest playing field.
          To the extent that the government did get the money, many government programs have massive benefits to the economy – certainly much better than the billions kept overseas by these companies.

          1. That ain’t worth $9 Billion worth of “harm.” Maybe in the low millions at most. Hypotheticals about what they might have earned are way out of line. Everyone looking for a payday they never earned and becoming millionaires overnight when that never would have occurred otherwise.

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