Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

Apple Google Intel and Adobe to Settle Anti-Poaching Suit

Kelly M. Dermody of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announced today that a settlement has been reached with Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corporation, and Adobe Systems Inc. in the class action lawsuit charging that these companies violated federal antitrust laws by conspiring for years to suppress the pay of technical, creative, and research and development employees, including by agreeing not to actively recruit each other’s employees. The terms of the settlement are confidential until Plaintiffs file their settlement papers with the Court next month.

“This is an excellent resolution of the case that will benefit class members. We look forward to presenting it to the Court and making the terms available,” stated Dermody, Co-Lead Counsel for the Plaintiff Class.

Class counsel will file with the Court a motion seeking preliminary approval of the settlements, approval of a plan to provide notice to the class, and set a date for a hearing on final settlement approval.

Today’s settlement follows settlements reached last year with Lucasfilm Ltd., Pixar, and Intuit Inc. for a combined $20 million.

Background on the High Tech Work Wage Suppression Class Action

In May 2011, a former software engineer at Lucasfilm filed a class action lawsuit charging Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar with violations of antitrust laws by conspiring to fix and restrict the pay of their employees and entering into “no solicitation” agreements with each other. Similar complaints were later filed by other employees, and the cases were consolidated before federal Judge Lucy H. Koh under the caption In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 11-CV-2509-LHK.

The case followed an investigation and two lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice concerning similar allegations against defendants. The government lawsuits ended when defendants agreed to end their alleged anticompetitive practices. However, at that time, the employees of defendants did not recover any compensation lost as a result of the alleged conspiracy. Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP initiated the present class action to pursue monetary recovery on behalf of the injured employees.

In October 2013, after reviewing voluminous factual and expert evidence, including testimony from defendants’ former and current Chief Executive Officers, Judge Koh certified a class of approximately 64,600 technical employees (“Technical Class”). The class consists of: “All natural persons who work in the technical, creative, and/or research and development fields that are employed on a salaried basis in the United States by one or more of the following: (a) Apple from March 2005 through December 2009; (b) Adobe from May 2005 through December 2009; (c) Google from March 2005 through December 2009; (d) Intel from March 2005 through December 2009; (e) Intuit from June 2007 through December 2009; (f) Lucasfilm from January 2005 through December 2009; or (g) Pixar from January 2005 through December 2009. Excluded from the Class are: retail employees from the class period; corporate officers, members of the boards of directors, and senior executives of all Defendants.”

The job titles of persons in the Technical Class include: (1) Software Engineers, (2) Hardware Engineers and Component Designers, (3) Application Developers, (4) Programmers, (5) Product Developers, (6) User Interface or User Experience Designers, (7) Quality Analysts, (8) Research and Development, (9) Animators, Digital Artists, Creative Directors and Technical Editors, (10) Graphic Designers and Graphic Artists, (11) Web Developers, (12) IT Professionals, (13) Systems Engineers and Administrators, and (14) employees classified as technical professionals by their employers.


Kelly M. Dermody
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
(415) 956-1000