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US Court Rejects Settlement in Silicon Valley Employee-Poaching Case

A US district court judge has rejected a settlement in a wage-fixing lawsuit involving Silicon Valley employers including Apple and Google, saying the proposed $324.5 million in damages is too low. Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California in San Jose said her ruling was based on a related settlement in another wage-fixing case last year in which Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Intuit settled with the plaintiffs for a combined $20 million. The current suit alleges that executives of four firms—Adobe Systems, Apple, Intel, and Intuit—concocted a plan to not hire each other’s employees to hold down wages. The original class-action lawsuit was filed against all seven companies covering roughly 65,000 people who worked for them between 2005 and 2010. The remaining four firms--Adobe Systems, Apple, Google, and Intel--agreed to settle, and the two sides agreed on a $324.5 million payment. Koh ruled that the total should be on scale with the earlier settlement and thus should be “at least $380 million.” The plaintiffs originally sought $3 billion in damages at trial, which would have been tripled under antitrust law were the suit successful. Intel said it is “disappointed that the Court has rejected preliminary approval of an agreement that was negotiated at arm's length over many months.” (Reuters)(CNET)

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