On Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected a request from Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe to try and avoid a class action lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the four tech companies conspired to decrease wages by agreeing not to hire each others employees. The class action lawsuit comes after various tech workers sued the companies.
The four companies asked for a decision to be made without the need for a trial and argued that the alleged “salary wars” between these companies do not exist. Judge Koh wrote:
“That the agreements were entered into and enforced by a small group of intertwining high level executives bolsters the inference that the agreements were not independent.”
The attempt by the top Silicon Valley companies failed and a trial date has been set for May 27. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2011 by five software engineers and it could effect around 64,000 tech workers.
According to the lawsuit Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs and Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt worked out an agreement to avoid poaching each others workers. Judge Koh pointed out that even though the four tech companies consider each other as competitors, the shared private compensation information with each other. She wrote:
“A reasonable jury could infer that this confidential information could be shared safely by competitors only because the anti-solicitation agreements squelched true competition.”
In her ruling, Judge Koh said that the similarity of “no poaching” agreements between different companies provides sufficient evidence that a jury must decide if there was a conspiracy to drive down wages.