Jan 14 Roughly 60,000 Silicon Valley workers won
clearance to pursue a lawsuit accusing Apple Inc,
Google Inc and other companies of conspiring to drive
down pay by not poaching each other's staff, after a federal
appeals court refused to let the defendants appeal a class
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late on Tuesday let
stand an order by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose,
California to let the workers sue as a group, and pursue what
the defendants said could exceed $9 billion of damages.
The case began in 2011 when five software engineers sued
Apple, Google, Adobe Systems Inc, Intel Corp
and others over an alleged "overarching conspiracy" to suppress
pay by agreeing not to recruit or hire each other's employees.
These defendants were accused of violating the Sherman Act
and Clayton Act antitrust laws by conspiring to eliminate
competition for labor, depriving workers of job mobility and
hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.
Class certification can make it easier for plaintiffs to
extract larger awards, at lower cost than if they sued
individually. It could also add pressure on defendants to
"We look forward to seeking justice for the class at trial,"
said Kelly Dermody, a partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann &
Bernstein, co-lead counsel for the class. She said a trial is
set to begin on May 27.
A Google spokesman declined to comment. An Intel spokesman
had no immediate comment. Adobe and Apple did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
In seeking the appeal, the companies had called Koh's order
They said that the claims were too disparate because they
covered employees with 2,400 job titles at seven companies, and
that the plaintiffs did not allege any impact on total hiring.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also asked the 9th Circuit to
grant permission for the appeal.
Much of the case was built on emails between top officials,
including the late Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and former
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, that the plaintiffs said
reflected understandings not to raid each other's talent.
The 9th Circuit decision is Hariharan et al v. Adobe Systems
Inc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-80223. The
lower-court case is In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust
Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California, No. 11-02509.