April 25, 2014

DON’T BE EVIL: Apple, Google will pay 64,000 engineers to avoid trial on “no-poach” deal.

A class-action lawsuit against Google, Apple, Adobe, and Intel over how they recruited employees was scheduled to go to a jury trial at the end of next month. But it’s not going to happen. Court papers filed today indicate that the case has been settled. Reuters reports that the total settlement sum, which is still not in public court papers, will be $324 million.

A New York Times report on this case, published Sunday, suggested that the parties were nearing settlement. That’s no surprise considering how potentially embarrassing a jury trial could have been for all of these companies.

The lawsuit had already made e-mails between Steve Jobs and Google executives about the agreements public, and more information would have surely come out. Jobs in particular may not have looked good at trial. “If you hire a single one of these people, that means war,” Jobs emailed Sergey Brin, as the Times noted in its post on today’s settlement.

The dispute stems from a deal between several large tech companies to not “cold call” competitors’ employees in order to recruit them. The Justice Department busted all the companies involved back in 2010, and the companies agreed to halt the practice. By agreeing to not compete for each others’ employees, the companies had formed a kind of anticompetitive cabal that kept engineers’ wages down.

Meanwhile, of course, they’re still importing dirt-cheap H1B labor.