Big Settlement in Tech Wage Case Harks Back to Different Era

A federal judge has approved a $415 million settlement that ends a lengthy legal saga revolving around allegations that Apple, Google and several other Silicon Valley companies illegally conspired to prevent their workers from getting better job offers.

The case focused on a "no-poaching" pact prohibiting Apple, Google and other major employers from recruiting each other's workers. Lawyers for the employees argued the secret agreement illegally suppressed the wages of the affected workers.

Things have changed dramatically since the class-action lawsuit was filed in 2011. Silicon Valley employers now regularly raid each other's workforces in search of talented engineers who might help them come up with new ideas and build technology's next hot product.

The lawsuit covered a period extending from 2005 to 2009. More than 64,000 technology workers will receive about $5,800 apiece to settle allegations that their wages were illegally held down by their employers' collusion during that time.

The complaint originally sought $3 billion in damages that could have been tripled under U.S. antitrust law. Based on that figure, the workers could have received more than $100,000 apiece if they prevailed at trial.

Nearly $41 million of the settlement will be paid to lawyers representing the technology workers. That's less than half of the roughly $85 million in fees that the attorneys had sought.

The approval granted Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, dispenses with a case that exposed internal emails casting former Apple CEO Steve Jobs in an unflattering light. Koh had rejected a $324.5 million settlement of the case reached last year as inadequate.

Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. will pay the revised settlement. Last year, Koh approved a separate settlement requiring Intuit Inc., Pixar Animation Studios and Lucasfilm to pay a $20 million settlement to resolve allegations made against them in...

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