Intel, Google, Apple try again to settle employee antitrust lawsuit

A previous settlement was rejected last year by the court as being too low

Intel and three other tech companies, accused of conspiring to prevent the poaching of each other's employees, have reached a new settlement with the workers.

Judge Lucy H. Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, last year rejected a proposed settlement of US$324.5 million with the tech workers as she found it was too low. Google, Apple, Adobe Systems and Intel appealed her decision in September.

"I can only confirm there is a new settlement but cannot provide other details at this time," wrote Daniel C. Girard, a lawyer for the workers in an email Tuesday. Papers will be filed with the court on Thursday, said Kelly M. Dermody, another attorney representing the tech employees.

Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy confirmed in an email that a settlement had been reached, but said that its terms are confidential until the agreement has been filed with the court. Google declined to comment.

The tech workers who filed the suit alleged that Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar put each other's employees off-limits to the other companies by introducing measures such as "do-not-cold-call" lists. The tech workers alleged an "overarching conspiracy" to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility.

The companies had earlier settled similar charges in 2010 with the U.S. Department of Justice but admitted no wrongdoing. They agreed not to ban cold calling and enter into any agreements that prevent competition for employees. The employees said that the government was unable to compensate the victims of the conspiracy, which was the reason they were filing a suit.

Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar have previously settled with the workers for about $20 million.

A court filing in May 2013 in the case has led to more class action lawsuits that allege secret no-poaching deals among tech companies to keep salaries low.

The new suits against Microsoft, Oracle and Ask.com appear to refer to a memo which names a large number of companies that are said to have arrived at special arrangements with Google to prevent poaching of staff. Oracle and Microsoft said in their defense that the DOJ had not seen it fit to prosecute them before 2010.

The new settlement would require the approval of the court.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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