A lawsuit filed by a software engineer in California is seeking compensation from Apple and a clutch of other blue-chip tech firms which it alleges conspired to limit competition among IT workers, effectively suppressing wages.
Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm are named as defendants in the case along with up to 200 "John Does" – as yet unidentified parties.
The suit is based on an investigation conducted in 2009 by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) into an agreement between the same companies not to poach each others' IT staff.
From September to December 2010, the DoJ filed complaints against the companies, finding their no-call agreements "facially anti-competitive because they eliminated a significant form of competition to attract high tech employees, and, overall, substantially diminished competition to the detriment of the affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities."
All the companies agreed to abandon their no-call agreements. But the settlement with the DoJ did not provide any compensation for the tech workers.
However, the class action filed earlier this week seeks compensation for ex-Lucas software engineer Siddharth Hariharan, "and all others similarly situated" for the period 2005 - 2009.
The suit even includes a diagram illustrating Apple's and Google's alleged central role. It personally names Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt and Arthur D Levinson who have both held positions simultaneously on Apple's and Google's boards.
"Every agreement alleged herein directly involved a company either controlled by Apple's CEO, or a company that shared a member of its board of directors with Apple," says the suit.
A recent survey by recruitment agency CV Screen shows UK IT salaries are at least keeping pace with inflation, with an average five per cent rise this year over last.