Judge rejects $324.5M settlement in Silicon Valley anti-poaching case

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A US federal judge on Friday rejected a settlement deal in a wage-fixing lawsuit that Silicon Valley tech giants Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe had reached with tech workers affected by an “anti-poaching” agreement.

Judge Lucy Koh, of the Northern District of California in San Jose, rejected the tech giants’ appeal saying that the $324 million class-action settlement amount was quite low as damages to be paid to more than 60,000 high-tech workers, as compared to the $20 million settlement that Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit sealed with tech employees a year ago.

Koh ruled out that the proposed settlement amount “falls below the range of reasonableness” and estimated that the amount should have been at least $380 million.

The 3-year-old law suit accuses Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar of entering into a secretive collusion to eliminate competition to maintain lower wages from 2005 through 2009.

In April, Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe consented to settle the case and pay back $324.5 million to more than 60,000 affected workers.

Koh said with the latest settlement each plaintiff would have ended up getting an average of $3,750 — after deducting attorney’s costs and other expenses – on dividing the damages among the 64,000 class members.

She said the plaintiffs had been seeking $3 billion in total damages and if they had won in court, they could have received damages of more than $9 billion under the antitrust law.

Responding to the ruling, Intel said it’s disappointed by the court’s decision and that it is yet to make decisions concerning future steps at this stage.

Apple, Google and Adobe are yet to comment on the ruling.