Four of Silicon Valley’s largest companies agreed to pay $324 million in a class-action lawsuit brought against them by former employees that says they conspired to not hire each other’s employees, in violation of antitrust laws.
The settlement was agreed upon in April but the exact amount was not released. Read the entire filing here.
The companies will pay into an escrow account called a “Notice Fund” that will be distributed between 64,000 potential class members, depending on how many stay with the suit. The five plaintiffs named in the suit will get an additional $80,000 for leading the suit.
The plaintiffs were all former engineers who said the agreement between the companies allowed the firms to keep wages low. One said the payout was also too low.
The lawsuit exposes systematic anti-poaching schemes that took place over many years at Silicon Valley’s biggest firms. According to PC World, the ‘anti-poaching’ scheme went as high as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. A written affidavit from the former president and CEO of Palm says in 2007 Jobs threatened Palm with a patent lawsuit if it didn’t take part in the scheme.
Jobs also went after Google’s Eric Schmidt for Google’s hiring of Apple employees from the iPod department. Circa says Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, fought off Google’s own attempts to get her participate as well.
Three other companies named in the suit: Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar, settled for $20 million in 2013. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh presided over both settlements.