A judge rejected on Friday a $324.5 million settlement over allegations big tech firms agreed not to poach from each other’s pools of skilled workers, which the workers contend led to a loss of five years' worth of potential wage growth. Adobe engineer Michael Devine, one of the named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, had disputed the settlement, pointing out that the lawyers would walk away with $8 million while the workers would get $5,000 apiece.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, agreed on Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Lawyers representing about 64,000 current and former employees from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC), Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) agreed to the settlement, but the workers were seeking $3 billion in damages for the collusion that allegedly took place between 2005 and 2009.
Koh pointed to a previous and similar case involving Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU), Pixar Animations Studios and Lucasfilm Ltd., in which workers received a $20 million settlement. A comparable settlement in the case involving the Silicon Valley tech companies would have to be “at least $380 million,” the judge said. The companies contend that any cooperation among them didn’t adversely impact employees’ pay.