Oct 25 A U.S. judge accorded class action status
to a lawsuit that alleges broad conspiracy among major Silicon
Valley companies to suppress employee compensation by not
poaching each other's employees, a court filing showed.
By winning the class certification, the plaintiffs would
have more leverage to extract larger financial settlements than
if they were to sue individually.
In 2011, five software engineers sued Adobe Systems Inc
, Intel Corp, Apple Inc and Google Inc
among others over their hiring practices, alleging that
the Silicon Valley companies entered into an "overarching
conspiracy" to suppress employee compensation to artificially
The 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.
The case has been closely watched in the Silicon Valley, and
much of it has been built on email exchanges between top
executives, including the late Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs
and former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.
Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, in a ruling made
available on Thursday, also certified the proposed class of
technical employees, which includes software and hardware
engineers, component designers, application developers, among
The plaintiffs believe this proposed class includes more
than 50,000 people, according to the filing.
In their original complaint, the plaintiffs sought
certification of an "All Employee" class, which included every
salaried employee throughout the United States who worked for
the defendant companies between 2005 and 2009, estimated to be
more than 100,000.
The plaintiffs limited their class action group after Judge
Koh in April said they have yet to show enough in common among
the proposed class members to allow them to sue together.
The case is In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation,
Case No. 11-02509, U.S. District Court, Northern District of