At a hearing yesterday in San Jose, California, a federal district court judge indicated from the bench that antitrust claims alleging an "over-arching conspiracy" to fix and suppress employee compensation through interconnected employer "no-poaching" agreements would survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
The consolidated amended complaint, In re: High Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (5:11-cv-02509-LHK), was filed in 2011 on behalf of a class of tens of thousands of high-tech employees of Adobe Systems, Inc.; Apple, Inc.; Google Inc.; Intel Corp.; Intuit Inc.; LucasFilm Ltd. and Pixar covering a five-year period (January 1, 2005 – January 1, 2010). The complaint alleged, among other things, that the defendants conspired to fix and suppress the compensation of their high tech employees through interconnected agreements: (1) not to recruit one another's employees, (2) to notify one another when making an offer to another company's employee, and (3) when offering a position to another company's employee, neither company would counteroffer the initial offer. These agreements, plaintiffs alleged, were unknown to the employees and artificially suppressed their wages. Plaintiffs have suggested that damages could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
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