According to The Recorder, “The groundbreaking [High-Tech Antitrust] class action, one of the first to successfully apply antitrust law to employment activity, has ushered in a wave of similar suits targeting California animation studios, North Carolina medical schools, a mixed martial arts promoter and additional tech companies.”
One of the principal means by which high-tech companies recruit employees is to solicit them directly from other companies in a process referred to as “cold calling.” These no-poach agreements that major Silicon Valley companies entered consequently resulted in the wage suppression of technical, creative, and other salaried employees.
On September 2, 2015, the Court approved a $415 million settlement with Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, and other tech giants to resolve these claims of federal and state antitrust law violations. In addition, earlier on May 16, 2014, the Court granted final approval to settlements valued at $20 million that had been reached in 2013 with Intuit Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd., and Pixar. The combined settlements in this landmark litigation constituted the largest resolution in history of antitrust claims in the employment setting, on either an aggregate or per-class-member basis.
“It’s an unusual case that’s outside the comfort zone of almost any antitrust lawyer and any employment lawyer, because it combines both,” stated Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein partner Dean M. Harvey, who represented plaintiffs in the Silicon Valley “no-poach” case, alongside partner Kelly M. Dermody and co-counsel.
Competition in the labor market results in better salaries, enhanced career opportunities for employees, and better products for consumers. Silicon Valley firms and other high-tech companies owe their huge success to the sacrifices and hard work of their employees, and must take responsibility for their misconduct.