Four of the largest technology companies in history have been sued by former employees who state a conspiracy took place which saw both job mobility and potential salary raises stall.
Adobe, Intel, Apple and Google have been accused of creating a deliberate ‘no hire’ policy which saw employees unable to gain promotions and increases in salary for any of the four competitors. The class action lawsuit could see payouts to over 64,000 ex-workers who feel they were unfairly treated and opportunities that could have made a huge difference to their lives were passed over for fear of succeeding further with another company.
Originally, the lawsuit stood to be settled for $324million, however a US judge considered that too low a settlement, instead raising it to $415million. The four companies have been at the forefront of the tech industry for years, and many were surprised at the level of conspiracy that appeared to be present.
‘No Hire’ Policy
In January last year, emails were leaked which showed communication between some of the most prevalent names in Silicon Valley, including CEO of Google Eric Schmidt and Apple founder Steve Jobs. These emails stated an agreement not to approach eachother’s employees with job offers, thus building the premise of the case.
These leaked emails demonstrate a clear breach of US antitrust laws which a judge said could result in up to $9billion in damages should the case be brought to a jury and then lost by the four companies. The judge therefore upped the settlement to the $425million it now stands at. It is believed that an agreement will be reached, although the lawsuit has set a precedent in terms of the scale of collusion and the potential damages that could be accrued.
The lawsuit is a surprising one, as we have long been hearing the stories about the benefits of working for large Silicon Valley companies, particularly due to the industry’s huge financial footprint on the way in which tech is created, marketed and used. It is therefore a shock for employees who considered themselves working in an industry of growth and potentially exciting paycheques, to find out they had been duped.
Although the lawsuit has not yet reached a settlement, the prospect of losing trust in such huge companies, who have made such a massive dent on society’s understanding of tech, could be more harmful than the financial implications. Adobe, Google, Intel and Apple could find themselves struggling for top talent, when candidates may prefer working for the underdog for less money but more clarity when it comes to recruitment.
"emails were leaked which showed ...an agreement not to approach each other’s employees with job offers..."