Google tried to stop Facebook from poaching employees

​Court documents in the wage-fixing lawsuit reveal that several tactics were allegedly dreamed up to prevent the social network from hiring Google workers.

A diagram from the suit demonstrating how the tech companies allegedly reached agreements on hires and compensation.
A diagram from the suit demonstrating how the tech companies allegedly reached agreements on hires and compensation. Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein

As Google, Apple, Intel, and Adobe wait for approval of their settlement offer in the wage-fixing lawsuit, new details have been released.

US District Judge Lucy Koh posted documents on Friday that contain emails between Google executives talking about their concern of Facebook hiring its employees, according to The Wall Street Journal. Facebook was never part of the insider tech club that allegedly conspired to keep wages low by not hiring each other's workers.

Initially, Google filed a motion to have the documents with the emails sealed, but it appears Koh rejected this motion. Some of the documents contain redactions, according to the Journal.

The emails show that Google contemplated a policy in which it would make counteroffers to workers offered jobs at Facebook within one hour of the offer, according to the Journal. The emails also detail the idea of confronting Facebook recruiters who approach Google workers, along with a possible plan that involved Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page personally recruiting Facebook employees.

The one-hour counteroffer idea was reportedly leaked within Google circles in November 2007, which caused Google CEO Eric Schmidt to write in an email, "Since I announced our 1 hour policy exactly 24 hours ago we should be embarrassed and disgusted by this leak."

The case, which also involved Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Intuit, started in 2011 when a former Lucasfilm software engineer filed a lawsuit alleging that the seven companies were conspiring to keep wages low by refraining from poaching one another's employees. Several similar complaints followed and they were all consolidated into a class-action lawsuit that covered nearly 65,000 employees who worked for the companies between 2005 and 2010.

Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Intuit settled last year for a combined $20 million, covering 8 percent of the employees named in the suit. The four remaining companies were set to go to trial in May but then agreed to pay $324.5 million to the plaintiffs in a settlement offer in May.

The plaintiffs originally planned to seek $3 billion in damages and at least one plaintiff has spoken out against the settlement amount, saying it's not nearly enough. The $324.5 million amount will equal a few thousand dollars per employee covered under the suit. It's unclear if Koh will approve this offer.

CNET contacted Google for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

 

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