Plaintiff blasts Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel settlement deal in Silicon Valley poaching case

“A class action plaintiff in the Silicon Valley anti-poaching lawsuit has asked a judge to reject a proposed settlement, claiming it benefits the lawyers and big tech firms more than the workers who brought the case,” Chris Isidore reports for CNNMoney. “‘The tentative settlement, if it stands, amounts to big profits for plaintiffs’ counsel, insulation from real liability for the defendants and locks in significant losses for the [affected tech workers],’ Michael Devine wrote Sunday in a letter to the judge overseeing the case.”

“At issue is a proposed $324 million settlement in the lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giants,” Isidore reports. “A class of 64,000 tech workers say the companies conspired to not make job offers to one another’s employees”

“Last month, Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel reached a tentative settlement,” Isidore reports. “Devine, one of the named plaintiffs, argues that total lost wages could come to $3 billion. That comes to an average of just under $500,000 for each of the 64,000 plaintiffs.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe settle antitrust hiring case for $324 million – April 24, 2014
Apple, Google, other firms could pay ‘blindingly high’ $9 billion in anti-poaching suit – April 8, 2014
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

22 Comments

  1. This just strikes me as whining. I really do not get why someone who works at Apple is entitled to work at Google and vice versa. Someone enlighten me?

    1. Is that a serious question? The job market is free and open. It is up to the employer to entice the worker to stay on (or entice a good employee from another company)… whether it’s benefits, better pay than the other guy, the job itself is more interesting, whatever. Those companies pretty much put a cap on what someone could earn, and where they could work.

      1. That’s one perspective, it’s making the assumption if you work for Apple or Google that the only skills you bring to the table relate to tech.

        I also find it interesting that the only perspective that people can see this from is the poor downtrodden employee. No one seems to stop to think why Apple would be hurt by an employee that they invested a lot of $$ into would just willy nilly go over to Google, carrying with them their valuable training, and insider knowledge of what goes on in Apple. I do not think any honest assessment of this issue ONLY looks at the employees perspective but rather looks at both sides.

      2. Okay, I haven’t followed this case in detail, but I thought that the anti-poaching agreement that was uncovered stated that the conspiring companies would not go after targeted employees from each other’s firms — Poaching. In other words, to entice an employee away from a competing firm. My understanding is that this non-poaching agreement did not stop an Apple employee, for instance, from going on his own to seek employment at Google, or vice versa. And don’t most of these employees sign Non-Compete agreements anyway, that would preclude them from jumping ship to a competitor for a period of time. I know the anti-poaching agreement is wrong on the face of it, but I can’t help wonder how chaotic the progress in Silicone Valley might have been without the stabilizing effect of this pact.

        1. Once again, non-compete agreements are illegal in California, where these companies are located.

          Second, this is a fairly blatant restraint-of-trade agreement, violating anti trust laws at the very least. The reason that they are illegal is that they use the companies’ market power to reduce competition. That has been considered a bad thing by economists for a couple hundred years.

          Also, there is at least one reported case where Apple forbade Google from hiring an ex-Apple employee, who had left Apple several months before.

    2. You don’t get it do you? Entitled is exactly what everyone has a right to. Entitled to work anywhere they can get hired. But when companies get together, collusion, employees don’t stand a chance to move to a better position with another company. That’s just plain wrong.

      1. Again, that’s one perspective, and one that ONLY looks at the employees side ignoring the side of the corporation. There’s 2 sides to this story, and you can apparently only see one. That makes you bias, it does not make you a visionary.

        1. That is the *only* valid legal perspective, twimoon1. While I agree that companies hate to lose good, experienced people, it happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a company takes workers for granted and assumes that people won’t leave even if they offer substandard benefits. Sometimes a company squeezes its employee benefits to raise the bottom line for its shareholders (which typically results in larger bonuses to upper management, too). Sometimes an employee just gets bored or wants to live somewhere else or needs to help family members in trouble. In some cases, especially for younger people entering the workforce, a person may take a job just to get a few years of experience before attempting to “move up.”

          Naturally, companies do everything that they legally can to reduce employee churn because (as you pointed out), training new people costs money. Companies use “non-compete” agreements. Companies refuse to provide references to prospective employers. Companies also attach extended employment commitment in return for specialized or costly training. Some companies (e.g., Cosco) realize that their employees really are an important asset and encourage them to stay by offering good compensation/benefits and a superior work environment.

          In some cases, companies stoop to illegal means to inhibit employee mobility. This is allegedly such a case.

          It is not “bias” to deal with reality and facts. It is bias to intentionally attempt to balance things by insisting on the inclusion of a flawed contra-argument.

    3. It has to do with manipulation of the hiring system, very similar in nature to an anti-trust action with respect to product pricing. The claim is that these companies conspired to reduce competition by agreeing not to offer jobs to each others employees. This would have the effect of reducing geographical mobility and inhibiting salary growth for the affected employees. These impacts would have a compound effect over time.

      The U.S. ideal is a fully open and competitive system. The alleged actions of these companies represent just the opposite. Consider how you would feel if you worked for Acme Corp in New Hampshire, but wanted to work for XYZ Corp in Colorado and, for “some reason,” you couldn’t get your foot in the door even though your credentials were outstanding. Meanwhile, back at Acme Corp, there was little incentive to offer you a raise because your external job options were limited. Years later, evidence that Acme and XYZ and other associated companies in your industry agreed not to hire workers from the others. Would you “whine” under those circumstances, twimoon1?

  2. “…has asked a judge to reject a proposed settlement, claiming it benefits the lawyers…”

    REALLY! I imagine the plaintiff is as amazed as I am. /s

  3. A $500,000 lump sum isn’t enough? How much do you need? He must’ve saw those dollar signs and fantasized about never having to work again a day in his life.

    1. Read the story then check your math.

      The proposed settlement, assuming about 1/3 goes to the lawyers (a typical amount/%) is about $3,400 to each plaintiff.

      If you assume that a person could have gotten $5,000 more to go to a competing company (or $5,000 more to stay rather than jump ship) then take that out, with inflation, over a 30 year career and it amounts to a loss of income of almost $170,000 compounded, or more (depending on whatever forward casting of the monies you do), over the full career. In that context, a $3,400 settlement seems rather meager.

      Yes, the original request (NOT the settlement) was for almost a half million per claimant (probably less than $400,000 each after the lawyers get theirs), was truly asinine. In no way is the future value of not being able to compete for jobs anywhere near that. But, $3,400 does seem a bit low too when each of the lawyers are likely making millions off the deal.

      1. As I stated in earlier post, you are suffering from pro-employee blinders and cannot even fathom that there are 2 sides to this story. Your rabid pro employee stand ignores the costs and real damages to businesses when employees jump ship with valuable training and insider knowledge to a competing firm.

        Given that you likely have never had to run a business, you have no concept that there are costs involved in hiring and training employees, and everyone you hire and train is an investment. Then you have no way to relate to the fact of why Apple and Google, etc. would be interested in such an agreement. You see it merely from “not wanting to pay xxx bonus salary”, rather than all the other costs and damages to the company being left.

        Further, you seem to ignore the only reason why Google would want to hire an Apple employee or some other tech firm would is because of the valuable training and experience they got at Apple, that’s their value add. So in essence they are using Apple’s training that they didn’t pay for to increase their salary and in the process hurt Apple, or vice versa with Google, etc.

        I can fully understand why employees would want to move around and get extra pay. Very easy to understand that. But what no one on this board seems to realise is there is another side to this story which you are all conveniently ignoring. This me-me-me mentality is typical of the modern age.

        1. Of course they are “interested” in such an agreement. But you seem to be unable to grasp the concept that such an agreement is illegal under U.S. law.

          As a businessman, you appear to want free and open competition when it is to your benefit, and serfdom when it comes to employees. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for anyone who has ever worked for you, you loon.

          1. Um sorry Mel but no hire agreements are not per se illegal. There is no law against them and they are quite common. This case has no chance in court as it would be very difficult to establish “naked restraint of trade”.

          2. Never been a fan of US law. We have one of the highest incarceration rates of any country in the world, we have a war on drugs which is based on racism and bigotry not science.

            We have a racist judicial system which targets minorities, an unaccountable NSA which spies on US citizens, unconstitutional legislation which allows the Federal government to indefinitely detain people without charges. I could go on and on.

            Bottom line, not interested in legal arguments as they do not base themselves on anything other than corrupt and crooked laws.

            Clearly Apple and the other companies lost based on the law, as you probably could have predicted. Just as Apple essentially lost vs Samsung, and Apple lost vs a corrupt trial over eBook prices. All based on laws.

            1. The war on drugs is based upon illegal drugs not bigoted racists.

              Make the drugs legal and sell them in drug stores. Throw the drug addled users in jail. Win-win.

        2. By the way, we are not ignoring your argument. By responding, we are acknowledging it. However, it has no legal standing whatsoever.

          People want to move around and increase their salaries. Companies want to keep their good employees and reduce the cost of hiring and training. In a competitive, capitalist system goo old supply and demand is supposed to take care of things. You appear to be in favor of placing covert (and illegal) handcuffs on your employees, tying them down to your company. I have great admiration for Steve Jobs, but that is utter crap.

          Why are we bothering debating with you. You clearly have a closed mind.

        3. twimoon1: you say “Further, you seem to ignore the only reason why Google would want to hire an Apple employee or some other tech firm would is because of the valuable training and experience they got at Apple, that’s their value add. So in essence they are using Apple’s training that they didn’t pay for to increase their salary and in the process hurt Apple, or vice versa with Google, etc.”

          Got any proof of that, or even evidence? Or is that just conjecture on your part? You seem to be suggesting that all of Apple’s employees are totally worthless except for the training and experience they got at Apple.
          Have you considered that just possibly (again, conjecture) that some employees at Apple have skills and experience that Apple isn’t utilizing and that some other employer can provide the opportunity for them to use those skills?

    2. Ummm. The plaintiffs asked for $3 billion total, which is where the $500k each comes from. The actual settlement is $324 million, which after the lawyers’ fees ($75 mm) comes out to about $4k each. This guy was a class representative and might get $20k.

  4. In what other country in the world are people so good at making scads of money without creating a thing? If these yayhoos got $500k for speculating than I’m suing the GOP for conspiring to keep my income down. I figure they owe me a couple million just because they let 9/11 happen!

    1. The workers (so called “yahoos”, according to you) won’t get $500K each. They will be lucky to get 1% of that. But I am willing to bet that the lawyers do much better than that in the settlement.

      As a general class, lawyers seem to be much better at “…making scads of money without creating a thing?” Can you imagine what the settlement would have been if the lawyers had been the affected employees and the big law firms had been guilty of collusion? That would be a lot of zeros…

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