Apple And Google Agree ‘No-Poaching’ Staff Deal – Report

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Tech workers win settlement from Apple, Google and others over an alleged ‘no-poaching’ of staff pact

Workers have reportedly won a significant legal victory against some of the biggest names in the tech sector following a new ruling concerning a ‘no-poaching deal’ between the likes of Apple and Google.

Four companies, Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel, have allegedly signed a settlement which will end the practice of refusing to take employees from any of the others.

The four have apparently agree a settlement of around $415m (£272m) to four plaintiffs which accused the companies of restricting their right to work where they wanted, according to the New York Times, which cited a person as close to the negotiations as its source.

hiring jobs wantedNo-Poaching Pact

The original class-action lawsuit was filed back in 2012 by four Silicon Valley workers, and centred around well known tech firms which had allegedly operated an “anti-poaching” agreement which the workers claimed impacted both their job mobility and limited their earning capacity.

The alleged pact between these tech firms included six bilateral agreements that would prevent any cold-calling and aggressive acquisitions of employees from rival companies. These deals were apparently agreed between 2005 and 2007.

But in 2012 Google was able to secure a senior member of Apple staff for the first time when it hired director of product integrity Simon Prakash. That particular hire indicated that those “no-poaching” agreements were possibly no longer in effect.

The judge presiding over the case had previously referred to emails between the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was deemed to be a ring leader in the alleged conspiracy, and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, which detailed the supposed pact not to headhunt each other’s employees.

One particular exchange mentioned took place in 2006 when Google abandoned plans to open an engineering office in Paris because of Steve Jobs’ “strong preference” that the search giant did not recruit four Apple engineers central to the project.

In August last year, Judge Lucy Koh of the US District Court for the Northern District of California rejected a settlement offer made by Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel to end the class action lawsuit.

The defendants had offered $324.5m (£213m) to settle the case, but Judge Koh said the amount was too low given the strength of evidence against the defendants.

New Settlement

But now the firms have apparently agreed to a new settlement. It has previously been reported that the plaintiffs had intended to ask for $3bn (£2bn), but Judge Koh had said that any settlement should be at least $380m (£250m).

The case had been closely watched by many firms because of the potential of a costly damages payout. Other firms in other sectors will now have to ensure that they do not have similar types of agreements in place with their corporate rivals.

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