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Businesses Google The Almighty Buck The Courts Apple

Apple, Google Agree To Settle Lawsuit Alleging Hiring Conspiracy 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-some-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A group of tech companies including Google and Apple have agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit over no-hire agreements in Silicon Valley. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. From the article: 'Tech workers filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Inc and Adobe Systems Inc in 2011, alleging they conspired to refrain from soliciting one another's employees in order to avert a salary war. Trial had been scheduled to begin at the end of May on behalf of roughly 64,000 workers in the class.'"
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Apple, Google Agree To Settle Lawsuit Alleging Hiring Conspiracy

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  • by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @07:18PM (#46837453)

    It should read: "Google and Apple agree to settle after seeing mountain of evidence against them."

    Likewise their statements will read something like: "We have agreed to settle this lawsuit in the hopes that it will bring closure to this situation and while we did nothing wrong we will amend our policies to treat all workers fairly. That is until we get caught again."

  • No fault? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donaggie03 (769758) <d_osmeyer AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @07:22PM (#46837473)
    Let me guess: the settlement specifically states that they admit to no fault right?
  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @07:23PM (#46837485)
    Is it possible to keep secret a deal with 64000 persons? That should leak.
  • by kerrbear (163235) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @07:29PM (#46837511)
    Really burns me up when companies cry "Free Market! Free Market!" then conspire to make the market less free. Hey Apple, how about if all the manufacturing companies conspire to keep their prices the same so you can't make any deals. Oh, but that would make you angry wouldn't it.
  • by StillAnonymous (595680) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @07:39PM (#46837561)

    They pull this hypocritical card all the time. If prices on something are high, they just dismiss with "supply and demand, econ 101, deal with it, blah blah". Then they go and purchase laws that prevent competition, and other laws to prevent you from importing the product from overseas for a cheaper price.

    On the other hand, when there's a low supply of skilled of workers (or even if there isn't), rather than raising salaries to attract the talent, they again purchase laws that allow to bring overseas employees into the picture and screw over the local workers once again.

  • by jmd (14060) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @07:59PM (#46837661)

    If ten people can sit around a table and decide what to pay me, I should be able to have 10 people sit around a table and decide what I will work for.

    You know corporations rig the game. Do you still see unions in a bad light now?

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @08:16PM (#46837765)

    If ten people can sit around a table and decide what to pay me, I should be able to have 10 people sit around a table and decide what I will work for.

    You know corporations rig the game. Do you still see unions in a bad light now?

    I'm not sure. I live in Detroit and they look pretty bad when the when the power company turns the lights on, but luckily that's pretty rare.

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:03PM (#46837983) Journal

    I worked at HP in the early 90s and they used to announce to us that their HR people had sat down with HR people from many other large engineering employers (including Intel, Cisco, etc.) in the Bay Area and throughout the US to define job descriptions and pay and benefits packages. I thought it was bullshit, but most of fellow employees didn't think much of it because the next part of the announcement was the 3% annual pay raise everyone was going to get.

    If there are any lawyers out there looking to prepare a similar suit, let me know!

  • Re:Settled. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nodwick (716348) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:11PM (#46838031)
    While your suggestions would certainly help align the incentives of the class action lawyers with those of the plaintiffs, they largely don't apply in this case. The Lucasfilm and Pixar settlements (which the latest settlement is considered likely to structured in a similar way to) was in cash and saw 45% of the settlement go to lawyers and legal fees, so your conditions above are met. However, many people are finding it strange that the legal team would have settled this case instead of fighting it out, given how much evidence was available. A New York Times article [nytimes.com] details the dollar amounts:

    Four of the largest technology companies tentatively settled on Thursday a class action brought by 64,000 of their engineers, who accused them of agreeing not to solicit one another’s employees. The amount of the settlement was not released, but people with knowledge of the deal said it was in the neighborhood of $300 million.

    [...]

    As a result of all these machinations, the suit claimed, the mobility and income of the engineers suffered. A guilty verdict in a trial might have meant the defendants would have had to pay triple damages of as much as $9 billion.

    The settlement resulted in an average payout (after fees) of ~$2300 per engineer, while fighting out the case and winning would have netted closer to $77k per engineer after fees. The engineers would have had to have just a 3% chance of winning the suit for it to be worthwhile to proceed with the case, and their odds of winning would almost certainly have been substantially higher. However, for the law firm, fighting out the case would have consumed many more billable hours than settling, so their payout (per billable hour) would not have been nearly as high if they won, and they faced a huge loss in terms of unpaid hours spent if the case was litigated and lost. That the lawyers decided to settle rather than continue to pursue the suit is a rational decision for them, but much less so for the plaintiffs they represented.

  • by maz2331 (1104901) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:42PM (#46838149)

    My question is: where the HELL is the Labor Department and the Commerce Department on all this? The small company I work at went through a month of poking, prodding, audits, etc. by the Dept. of Labor looking for overtime violations or miscategorizing employees as salary vs. hourly, and all they found was $2000 over 3 years, and even that was questionable.

  • Re:Settled. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pepty (1976012) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:03PM (#46838237)

    The problem is the scale of the incentive for the lawyers becomes meaningless if those lawyers are allowed to pursue their own interests above those of the class they supposedly represent. Compare that to the corporations' lawyers - how well are they rewarded for fucking over their clients? The class's lawyers also don't necessarily perform a service to the public, since settlements usually keep the discovered details of the transgression secret. To prevent that problem the interests of the lawyers should be kept tied so close to those of the class that you can't cut the class without the lawyers needing stitches. Hence rules of parity. I'm all for class action attorneys getting paid a whopping big portion of the payouts, but it should reflect what they have done for the class, not what they have done for themselves. Those are just the suggestions I've come up with - do you have better ones?

    Also: often members of the class were injured enough for individual suits to have already been filed; those suits are then combined into a class action suit. The suits that result in nothing but coupons for the class rarely serve any meaningful purpose: the class (except for the lead plaintiffs) receives no meaningful benefits; the transgressors don't pay out enough for it to serve as inducement for better behavior, don't admit to anything, and aren't forced to reveal the evidence showing what they actually did. If as a result of my suggestions fewer lawyers are willing to pursue class actions like those the loss would be outweighed by the gains. The more merit the class action has, the less of a burden the rules would be to the attorneys.

  • by Moof123 (1292134) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:09PM (#46838269)

    I know it is getting comical to ask, but shouldn't the CEO's that are still alive face jail time? Same for the heads of HR that went along with this crap?

  • by Arker (91948) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @11:29PM (#46838505) Homepage
    I could be wrong, I am not in HR and insanity is rampant, but I am at least hoping that is one of the questions they do not even read the answer to.

    The entire point is presumably simply to give you an opportunity to lie on the record. If you have sued an employer in the past, being human and thus stupid, you are likely to lie on your application to get your job. On the other hand they are extremely unlikely to spend the money for anything like a serious investigation of your answers before hiring you.

    But if you somehow become a pain later, and you lied on your application, they can insta-terminate you at any time by simply "discovering" that fact. Even if you are in a jurisdiction where they have to have cause. And if you are not in such a jurisdiction, having cause is still gravy. So it's later, if at all, that they might actually pay some attention to your answer and consider paying for an investigation to determine its veracity.

    On the other hand, if you have sued an employer in the past *and admit it* then there is a very good chance you're substantially more honest and loyal than half the workforce and have a really really good story about how exactly you were forced into that situation against your will. Which HR would love to read one day if they are ever caught up on paperwork and bored with facebook, but for purposes of the interview they might well just skim through it as unimportant without even properly reading it.

    Like I said, I could be wrong. Would love to hear replies from HR folks, anonymously is fine, agree or disagree is fine too as long as you tell us *why.*

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

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