Judge Rejects $324M Settlement Proposal in Apple, Google Class-Action Anti-Poaching Lawsuit

Judge Lucy Koh today rejected the settlement deal that Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe had reached with tech workers over a lawsuit involving anti-poaching agreements, reports CNBC.

According to court documents, Koh believes the total settlement "falls below the range of reasonableness," compared to the $20 million settlement that Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit reached with tech employees in 2013. Proportionally, based on that settlement, Apple and the other tech companies should have to pay out at least $380 million.

apple_google_logo

The Court finds the total settlement amount falls below the range of reasonableness. The Court is concerned that Class members recover less on a proportional basis from the instant settlement with the Remaining Defendants than from the Settled Defendants a year ago, despite the fact that the case has progressed consistently in the Class’s favor since then. Counsel’s sole explanation for this reduced figure is that there are weaknesses in Plaintiff’s case such that the Class faces a substantial risk of non-recovery. However, that risk existed and was even greater when Plaintiffs settled with the Settled Defendants a year ago, when class certification had been denied. [...]

Using the Settled Defendants’ settlements as a yardstick, the appropriate benchmark settlement for the Remaining Defendants would be at least $380 million, more than $50 million greater than what the instant settlement provides.

Tech workers initially levied the class action anti-poaching lawsuit against the companies in 2011, accusing them of creating no-hire agreements and conspiring not to poach employees from one another in an effort to keep salaries lower.

No-solicitation agreements revealed during the lawsuit dated back to 2005, involving Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, among others. The agreements prevented company recruiters from contacting employees placed on specific no-contact lists.

The United States Department of Justice stepped in back in 2010, ordering the companies to stop entering anti-poaching agreements, but the class-action civil lawsuit brought against the companies by 64,000 employees will remain open until a suitable settlement can be reached. The suit originally asked for $3 billion in damages, a significantly higher number than the 324 million agreed upon in April.

Top Rated Comments

NT1440 Avatar
84 months ago
Good, silicon valley as a whole stole billions in wages for employees through this scheme. The payout should be much higher.


That said, this is in a country where Bank of America is about to pay $17 Billion for their illegal acts that helped tear down the economy, but resulted in hundreds of billions in profit at the time.

We live in a pay to play corporatocracy, and good on this judge for holding out for more.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
theheadguy Avatar
84 months ago

Exctly. If both sides agree, the judge should have no say in the matter. Unless she just wants more media attention, which sadly seems to be the case here.

My question is: Did the tech worker's side accept the settlement? Who gives a rat's derriere what the Judge thinks if the tech worker's side is okay with the settlement.


Then this is a wonderful educational opportunity for you. In certain types of legal cases, the judge gets to ensure that the settlement is fair for the workers. Attorneys (on both sides, sometimes) do not always have the workers' best interest in mind.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
84 months ago

My question is: Did the tech worker's side accept the settlement?

Who gives a rat's derriere what the Judge thinks if the tech worker's side is okay with the settlement.

Because the companies broke the law. This is not just a civil lawsuit.

It appears that the government is stepping back and letting the lawsuit act as the punishment, but should the workers just give up and say "never mind" then the government would have to step in and do something.

So based on that, yes, they do have an interest in how the 'punishment' ends up.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Albanbrooke Avatar
84 months ago
The Judge's decision is actually really good.

Exctly. If both sides agree, the judge should have no say in the matter. Unless she just wants more media attention, which sadly seems to be the case here.


The judge has to have a say in the matter because this is a class action lawsuit.

Class action lawsuits are different because the plaintiffs (people who got screwed) aren't really involved in the suit themselves. There are a few "named plaintiffs" who might be, but it is likely only five people out of the tens of thousands who were harmed by this practice.

Class actions are often settled so that the attorneys make a TON of money; like tens of millions of dollars in fees. The proposed settlements actually include an agreement of how much money goes to the attorneys who brought the lawsuit against Apple and Google.

It is possible that:

1) The judge didn't feel that the class of harmed individuals (everybody who was underpaid as a result of the anti-poaching agreement) was being served by the terms of the agreement, or
2) That the attorneys' fees were way too high.

There are actual cases where the class gets pennies on the dollar while some of the attorneys walked away with $5k/hr for their work. Judges MUST be active in these types of cases.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nagromme Avatar
84 months ago
Agreed; that does fall below the range of reasonableness. It even falls below the level of noticeableness.

Tim Cook doesn't seem likely to even want to continue the practice, but Apple itself isn't all that matters. Other big companies are looking at this precedent. Telling them "go ahead, you might get fined pocket change" would not be helping the problem.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aristotle Avatar
84 months ago
I propose cutting Lucy Koh's salary because I think it is too damn high.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...