Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe Anti-poaching Settlement Gets June Hearing

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-05-28 Print this article Print

Companies do have "whole vast areas where you can restrict employees from moving to other companies," such as noncompete agreements, he said. "You can also put anti-poaching arrangements in contracts when you are selling or buying a company. But you can't just do that outright any time you like, particularly when it could create an antitrust situation. There was no foundation to do that between Apple and Google."

The fact that the defendants reached a settlement at this point in the matter—it was scheduled to begin trial on May 27—also intrigued Becker because there was still quite a ways to go before the plaintiffs would complete their full case, he said. "They were essentially arguing that the entirety of Silicon Valley was doing this. That's much tougher to prove to a jury than 'I didn't get a job I applied for and when I didn't get it, I was affected for the balance of my career.'"

The amount of the settlement, at about one-tenth of the original demand, appears to be reasonable considering the dangers on both sides as the case approached trial, said Becker. "I wouldn't call this an admission that [the defendants] were going to lose or that they had a strong case on the side of the plaintiffs," he said.

Under the proposed settlement, Devine, one of the four named plaintiffs in the original case, would receive about $80,000 in damages, while other class-action members of the suit would get about $4,000 each. Devine is not happy about that, but such figures appear to be typical in class-action cases, Becker added. The plaintiffs' attorneys stand to earn about a quarter of the settlement.

Google, Apple and other companies also found themselves in the headlines in January 2014, not for their products but for their involvement in a dispute in the San Francisco Bay Area involving corporate buses the companies use to shuttle their employees back and forth to their jobs. The dispute arose because the companies had not contributed money to the city for the upkeep of the bus stops that were used by the corporate vehicles. The use of the stops without compensation inspired protests by local activists who opposed the practice. In January, an agreement was reached between the city and the companies to establish fees for the use of the bus stops.

In December 2013, a Google commuter bus that whisked employees to and from their San Francisco neighborhoods to their workplace some 34 miles away in Mountain View, Calif., was blocked from proceeding by a group of protestors who oppose the Google buses for traffic and economic reasons, according to an earlier eWEEK report.


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