Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe to pay $324m to settle anti-poaching class action suit

By Sooraj Shah
25 Apr 2014 View Comments
Three businesspeople meet and shake hands

Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe have agreed to pay a total of $324m (£193m) to settle an anti-poaching class-action lawsuit filed by around 100,000 tech industry personnel, Reuters reports.

The lawsuit accused the companies of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley in order to restrict hiring opportunities between firms. The tech workers who were seeking recompense for lost earnings planned to ask for $3bn (£1.8bn) in damages at trial, and this could have tripled to around $9bn (£5.3bn) because of antitrust laws.

Further reading

Late co-founder and CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, is said to have threatened Google co-founder Sergey Brin with "war" if the web company attempted to headhunt staff from Apple.

An internal email from Brin to other Google staff suggests that he received an "irate" phone call from Steve Jobs.

"I don't think we should let that determine our hiring strategy but I thought I would let you know. Basically, he said. ‘If you hire a single one of these people that means war'.

"I said I could not promise any outcome but I would discuss it with the executive team again," he wrote.

In another case, when a Google recruiter approached an Apple employee, CEO Eric Schmidt told Jobs that the recruiter would be fired. Jobs then forwarded the e-mail to an Apple HR executive with a smiley face.

There was also an exchange where Google's human resources director asked the CEO whether they should share the no-cold-call agreements with competitors.

Schmidt responded that he preferred it to be shared "verbally, since I don't want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later", according to the court filing.

The four tech companies had already settled a related Department of Justice lawsuit in 2010, where they agreed to end the arrangement whereby they pledged that they would not recruit each other's employees.

They have since been fighting against this civil lawsuit.

Disney's Pixar and Intuit were also involved in the original lawsuit, and have already agreed to a settlement. Disney will pay about $9m (£5.4m) and Intuit will settle for $11m (£6.5m).

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