Judge approves $415M settlement for tech workers

Judge approves $415M settlement for tech workers
© Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday approved a $415 million settlement that ends a class action lawsuit against four major Silicon Valley companies accused of violating antitrust law by agreeing not to poach each other’s employees.

U.S. Judge Lucy Koh approved the settlement negotiated between tech workers and Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Northern District of California judge also approved attorney’s fees of a little less than $41 million, far below what the plaintiffs’ lawyers originally proposed. 

The case dates back to 2010, when the Justice Department accused a number of companies of violating antitrust laws by agreeing not to recruit one another’s employees with cold calls, in which a company makes unsolicited calls or meets face-to-face with a competing company’s employees about job opportunities. 

The Justice Department said those agreements hurt competition as well as employees, who likely missed out on better job offerings and higher wages.

After the companies settled the case with the Justice Department and agreed to stop the practice in 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of employees to get damages. Tens of thousands of workers and former workers joined the case. 

The case also initially involved Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm, but employees previously settled for $20 million from those three companies. 

Last year, the employees and tech companies agreed to a $324 million settlement, but the judge rejected the deal. After another $90 million was tacked on, the judge concluded Wednesday that the settlement was “fair, adequate and reasonable.”

“The settlement reflects the strength of plaintiffs’ case as well as the defendants’ position,” the judge said, adding that the agreement appeared to result from “arm’s length negotiations by capable counsel.”