Google, Adobe, Apple, Intel settle wage-fixing lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit filed by employees against seven of the biggest tech companies has been settled out of court.

Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
Seth Rosenblatt
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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

A class-action lawsuit filed by high-tech company workers against their employers has been settled out of court.

Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel have all agreed to settle with their employees in the lawsuit, covering nearly 65,000 employees, according to a court document obtained by CNET from US District Court Judge Lucy Koh on Thursday. The lawsuit accused seven companies of conspiring to eliminate competitive hiring and keeping wages artificially low.

Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Intuit agreed to settle last year for a combined $20 million, covering 8 percent of the employees named in the suit.

"This is an excellent resolution of the case that will benefit class members. We look forward to presenting it to the Court and making the terms available," said Kelly M. Dermody, co-lead attorney for the workers.

Google and Intel confirmed that the lawsuit had been settled, but declined further comment. Apple also declined to comment.

Terms of the settlement were not made public, though Reuters has reported that the four companies will pay a total of $324 million. Had the case gone to trial as planned at the end of May, court filings indicate, the tech employees would have sought $3 billion. Under antitrust law, that could have tripled to $9 billion. Whatever the eventual cost might have been, it was widely expected that the resolution of the case could lead to wide-ranging changes across Silicon Valley.

The case kicked off in 2011 when a former Lucasfilm software engineer filed a lawsuit alleging that the seven companies had engaged in wage collusion and anti-competitive, "no solicitation" agreements with each other. As others filed similar complaints, Judge Koh merged them into one class-action suit, "In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation," that addressed the complaints of 64,600 current and former engineers, designers, quality analysts, artists, editors, and system administrators that worked at the seven companies between 2005 and 2010.

The lawsuit alleged that the orders to not compete for workers came from the highest levels of each company, including Steve Jobs at Apple, Eric Schmidt at Google, George Lucas at Lucasfilm, and others.

Apple-Google Wage Fixing Settlement 4/24/2014 by CNET News