Apple, Google To Face Group Antitrust Hiring Lawsuit


Bloomberg reports Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe must face a group lawsuit representing over 64,000 technical employees. The employees are claiming that their incomes were held down due to the companies’ agreements not to recruit one another’s workers.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, granted a class-action certification. In April, Koh rejected the employees’ bid to proceed as a class, partly because they failed to demonstrate that all class members were affected. In August, Koh said the case was “much stronger” after gathering more information.

The suit represented software and hardware engineers, programmers, digital artists, animators, web developers and other technical professionals. Kelly Dermody, a lawyer representing them, said in an email that there are as many as 64,626 potential class members.

Judge Lucy Koh wrote the following in her ruling:

The court finds that, based on the extensive documentary evidence, economic theory, data, and expert statistical modeling, plaintiffs’ methodology demonstrates that common issues are likely to predominate over individual issues.

The lawsuit is a private action on behalf of employees, mirroring claims that the companies settled in 2010 with the U.S. Justice Department.

In an email responding to Koh’s ruling, Google wrote, “We have always actively and aggressively recruited top talent.”

Apple’s spokeswoman Kristin Huguet, Intel spokesman Chris Kraeuter, and Adobe all declined to comment.

The three companies named in the original complaint, Intuit, Walt Disney’s animation studio Pixar, and visual effects specialist Lucasfilm, have tentatively settled the antitrust claims.

While Judge Koh must approve the settlements, Intuit has agreed to pay $11 million, and Lucasfilm and Pixar will together pay $9 million as part of the agreements, Dermody said. Employees from those three companies make up 8 percent of the class.

The companies have argued that the employees’ lawyers failed to show that everyone in the proposed group was affected by any no-hire agreements with rivals, as is required for class certification.