Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe had an ongoing lawsuit in which they were accused of conspiring against their own workers. Now, the companies have appealed the judge’s rejection of the proposed $325 million settlement.
The lawsuit that was filed in 2011 involved the claims of workers from the four tech companies as they stated that the employers had conspired to make sure that neither company poaches workers from the other. As such, job mobility was limited as was the cap on the workers’ salaries.
Emails between Steve Jobs, the late Apple Co-founder and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt were made public as the conspiracy accusation surfaced.
The four involved companies attempted to settle with the employees that had filed the lawsuit and offered a sum of $325 million. The U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose considered, however, that the meager sum didn’t do the employees justice and rejected the settlement. Consequently, an appeal was filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in the hope that it would overrule Koh’s decision. Now, the four tech giants will be meeting with District Judge Koh next week in a settlement conference.
According to the appeals filed by the 4 companies, Judge Koh had committed clear legal error in her ruling and also “impermissibly substituted the court’s assessment of the value of the case for that of the parties who have been litigating the case for more than three years”.
Both the attorney for the plaintiffs and Adobe spokespeople have declined comments, while representatives for the other three companies involved in the lawsuit couldn’t be reached.
This case has had a significant amount of publicity as it involves the possibility that huge damages be awarded by some of the biggest tech firms in the United States.
In her ruling, judge Koh explained that the plaintiffs had provided substantial evidence that proved that the late Steve Jobs had represented a key figure (if not the central one) in the conspiracy that had employees metaphorically bound to their desks. She also mentioned the similar settlement between Disney and Intuit, noting that the employees of the involved firms would have received proportionally less from the proposed settlement offer. According to her, a minimum of $380 million would be required to match the mentioned settlement.
Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe accused Koh of being rigid and formulaic in her approach and stated that the district judge had suggested that, if a larger settlement wouldn’t be reached, the court would have wasted a year of its time on this case.