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Apple, Google Go On Trial For Wage Fixing On May 27 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-tickets-now dept.
theodp writes: "PandoDaily's Mark Ames reports that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has denied the final attempt by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe to have the class action lawsuit over hiring collusion practices tossed. The wage fixing trial is slated to begin on May 27. 'It's clearly in the defendants' interests to have this case shut down before more damaging revelations come out,' writes Ames. (Pixar, Intuit and LucasFilm have already settled.) The wage fixing cartel, which allegedly involved dozens of companies and affected one million employees, also reportedly affected innovation. 'One the most interesting misconceptions I've heard about the "Techtopus" conspiracy,' writes Ames of Google's agreement to cancel plans for an engineering center in Paris after Jobs expressed disapproval, 'is that, while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs.' Ames adds, 'In a field as critical and competitive as smartphones, Google's R&D strategy was being dictated, not by the company's board, or by its shareholders, but by a desire not to anger the CEO of a rival company.'"
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Apple, Google Go On Trial For Wage Fixing On May 27

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:18PM (#46612335)

    Obviously, they thought they were above the law.

    They might be right. Judge Koh has declined to dismiss the case, but there will still be a trial, and after that, two rounds of appeals. They might get away with it.

  • Re:No proof so far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:32PM (#46612407)

    Hasn't been any proof of any wrong doing so far. Anti-poach agreements aren't illegal or even unethical. Agreeing not to break the law by going after other companies employees is not a problem. If there was a no hire agreement it would be an issue but we've seen no evidence of that.

    Actually, anti-poaching agreements ARE illegal in certain states. In particular, California, where many of these firms are based have specific laws that are supposed to avoid collusion like being alleged here.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:42PM (#46612457)

    But is it really worth the virtually inevitable lawsuit for a company as successful as the defendants in this case to cheat the backbone of their operations out of a fair wage...

    It's not about "fair wage" in most cases, it's about opportunity to work on projects these talented engineers want to work on.

    In most cases, the money is something but not the big draw.

    These folks bail from Google to Apple, Apple to Google, to work on stuff they want to work on.

    Google and Apple (and Intel) are not in a wage fight, they all pay very well.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:51PM (#46612497) Homepage

    Except that, as these companies make abundantly clear when you're hired, you are not in an employment contract. You are an at-will employee who can leave at any time and who can be terminated at any time for any or no reason. Companies like that because it lets them just fire people whenever they want, and these agreements are simply to let the company have all the advantages of having at-will employees without having to suffer any of the consequences of having at-will employees.

  • Re:No proof so far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk (813939) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:52PM (#46612501)
    Anti poaching agreements ARE illegal in many places, including where this is being prosecuted. I can't see how you can see nothing ethically wrong with your employer going out and actively limiting your work opportunities and supressing your wages.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:57PM (#46612517)

    while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs

    Yes, needing to offer competitive wages to creative team members would have increased the cost of the individual project, but that need not affect the company's bottom line if it finds cost savings elsewhere, like in executive compensation.

  • cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:01PM (#46612531) Journal

    'is that, while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs.'

    If you want to protect innovation, pay your programmers enough. If your product can't cover costs of paying a competitive salary, it doesn't deserve to be a product. Welcome to capitalism.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:14PM (#46612571)

    May I say that we all miss Groklaw's insightful analysis, and very open access to, the core documents and analyses of these cases? If anyone on Slashdot knows PJ personally and can encourage her to accept the problem of email monitoring and return to her legal soapbox, she'd be welcomed. Groklaw's analyses of these cases, and PJ's careful attention to detail were welcome and instructive.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:18PM (#46612585) Journal

    No one at being recruited is at will. These aren't tech support jobs they're design and engineering teams. These folks have very detailed contracts. Your not working a new products without one.

    Perhaps the state in which you live permits indentured servitude, but California law restricts what employment terms can be enforced and leaving to join a competitor is an act that is protected under California law.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:55PM (#46612735)

    Obviously, they thought they were above the law.

    Yes, thats exactly what they ruled in court.

    Wait, this hasnt gone to trial yet? Maybe they should have just asked you whether the parties are guilty or not, since you seem to have it figured out.

    After such nonsense as the Duke Lacrosse trial or the various "hes a rapist oh wait nevermind" cases where someone's life is ruined by a false accusation, you'd think people would learn to wait until AFTER the trial to break out the pitchforks. But then again you cant ever estimate just how knee-jerk internet posters can be.

    They might get away with it.

    And you've even preemtively broken out the confirmation bias! Bless your heart. If theyre judged guilty, theyre guilty. If theyre judged innocent, theyre doubly guilty. Must be nice to live in a world where you can determine who did what just based on hearing one side of the story as told by a blogger.

  • by Kasar (838340) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @10:13PM (#46612797)
    These same companies went to Congress many, many times to get more H1B visas when even technical call center wages were being pressured up to median income levels. It was fine to intervene in market forces when politicians were getting checks, but not if they were left out of the "negotiations".
  • by ThatAblaze (1723456) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @10:44PM (#46612901)

    Actually, I think the smiley in that instance could be called evil because it referred to the firing of an employee of another company that he made happen. So, if I sent a knife to someone along with a letter telling them to stab you, and they then did it, then my package could be considered an evil package.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @11:11PM (#46612961)

    Have you ever seen the penalty for something like this cost a company more than they saved by breaking the law in the first place? They've already won.

  • by gig (78408) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @06:19AM (#46613957)

    > while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also
    > needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding
    > spiraling costs.

    That is bullshit. If an Apple employee has a job offer from Google for $20,000 more, then give the Apple employee a $25,000 raise if you need to keep the team together. Apple has $160 billion or something like that in the bank. They are giving dividends to shareholders whose stock holdings have gone up exponentially over the course of just a few years.

    Wages have been flat for 30 years while productivity and corporate profits soared. There's no excuse at all for not paying employees.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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