Antitrust suit puts Apple at heart of pay-limiting scheme

Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit, Pixar and others were allegedly involved in collusion to limit tech workers' pay

A California class action lawsuit puts Apple at the center of a conspiracy involving Google, Adobe, Intel and others to keep employee wages down.

The suit echoes an investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009 that charged the companies with agreeing not to cold call each other's employees in order to extend job offers. The companies settled with the DOJ, agreeing not to ban cold calling and not to enter into any kind of agreement that prevents competition for employees.

But that settlement didn't help employees who were potentially paid less because of the deals, the lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California in the County of Alameda on Wednesday, argued.

"Without this class action, Plaintiff and members of the class will not receive compensation for their injuries and Defendants will continue to retain the benefits of their unlawful collusion," according to the suit.

The suit charges the companies with violating antitrust and unfair competition laws for forming agreements aimed at keeping employee compensation artificially low and eliminating competition among the defendants for skilled labor. The suit was brought by Siddharth Hariharan, a former software engineer at Lucasfilm.

The companies agreed to provide notification to the employer when making an offer to an employee and, when offering a position to another company's employee, neither company would counteroffer above the initial offer, according to the suit.

"The intended and actual effect of these agreements was to fix and suppress employee compensation and to impose unlawful restrictions on employee mobility," the suit reads.

The suit charges Apple with instigating the deals and even features a diagram depicting Apple's central place in the scheme, which also included Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm. "Every agreement alleged herein directly involved a company either controlled by Apple's CEO, or a company that shared a member of its board of directors with Apple," the suit said.

The agreements among the companies started when Pixar and Lucasfilm agreed to eliminate competition between them for skilled labor, the suit alleges. Apple CEO Steve Jobs started Pixar when he bought Lucasfilm's computer graphics division.

Next to enter into an agreement against poaching with Apple was Adobe, according to the suit. Google, which shared a board member with Apple at the time, was next. The other companies followed, entering into identical agreements, the suit alleges.

The plaintiffs are asking the court for certification as a class and restitution and damages.

Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Pixar and Adobe did not return requests for comment. Lucasfilm could not be reached.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags LucasfilmAppleantitrustAdobe SystemslegalIntuitPixar Animation Studiosintel

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?