About the Case
The DOJ case and the class action lawsuit that
followed set new precedents in the application of
antitrust law to protect labor rights.
TECH WORKERSMore than 64,000 fellow tech workers were represented in the class action suit.
LOST WAGESThe plaintiffs claimed $3 billion in lost wages.
SETTLEMENTThe tech companies settled out of court.
The Department of Justice Case
In 2009, the Department of Justice received reports that several leading technology companies in Silicon Valley were colluding to harm the very people responsible for their wealth and success: their own employees.
The allegations suggested that executives at different companies sought to reduce operating costs and retain critical personnel by shutting off employment opportunities at each others’ companies. They secretly shared salary information and stopped recruiting each other’s employees. This arrangement may have originated with Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, who pressured other CEOs, including Google’s Eric Schmidt, to join the conspiracy.
The DOJ and California’s Office of the Attorney General named other participating companies - Adobe, Intel, eBay, Pixar, Intuit, and Lucasfilm - in a criminal complaint for violations of antitrust law. The companies agreed to end the agreements, but no compensation was provided to their employees.
In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation
In 2013, a class action suit was certified, seeking lost pay and damages for 64,000 tech workers. The class included engineers, designers, and other technical professionals from the offending Silicon Valley companies.
2015 - Before the case went to trial, the companies settled for a total of $435 million, making this the largest resolution of antitrust claims in the employment setting.
2016 - The DOJ released “Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals,” stating that they intend to proceed criminally against no-poaching agreements going forward.
Why is this important?
Competition in the labor market provides workers with access to better salaries and job opportunities.