Friday, April 25, 2014

Tech Firms Settle Recruiting Suit on Eve of Trial

Major technology companies agreed yesterday to settle a class-action lawsuit in which 64,000 employees accused them of conspiring not to recruit each other's workers, suppressing compensation. Terms of the settlement involving Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe weren't immediately released, but the case reportedly settled for about $325 million. During pretrial proceedings, emails from top executives including Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt surfaced, showing the executives conferred on hiring plans, sometimes through intermediaries. Defendants filed motions seeking to exclude evidence that made Jobs appear as a bully, which was apparently validated in Brin's deposition. Avoiding executives appearing on the witness stand made a settlement attractive. Intel stated it was settling to avoid the risks of litigation, but denied violating any laws or obligations. Adobe elected to settle this matter in order to avoid the uncertainties, cost and distraction of litigation. Apple and Google declined comment. Employees of the companies had been seeking $3 billion in damages. Under antitrust rules, that could have been tripled to $9 billion. The settlement follows settlements reached last year with Lucasfilm, Pixar and Intuit for a combined $20 million. The civil case followed a 2010 Justice Department case on the same matter. Trial was set to begin May 27th before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif. The case alleged an inner circle of Silicon Valley executives communicated during a period when the interoperability of companies' products was often discussed. Emails between the executives embarrassed executives and their companies. E-discovery played a role in the deal, as Schmidt had emailed about only conferring on agreements not to recruit from other companies verbally, so as not to create a paper trail which could later be sued upon. See story here--