back to article Silicon Valley WAGE-FIX: Tech firms mull new deal to kill staff lawsuit

Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel are reportedly closing in on a wage-fix settlement deal to end a long-running antitrust lawsuit brought against the companies by aggrieved engineers. According to Reuters, which has seen a brief document* filed at the US District Court, Northern District of California, plaintiffs were expected to …

  1. Ashton Black

    Big fine... but.

    Will it stop others from doing this or themselves doing it again? It seems that the Tech firms were pretty blasé about how they went through with the collusion. If it will save them money in the longer term, they will just be more circumspect about it.

  2. Dan Paul

    No settlement, EVER....

    All these companies need to be fined by at least 10% of revenue and there needs to be full legislation against their employment "Cabal" ever raising its ugly head again.

    Multiple infractions should multiply the fine. 90% of all fines MUST be given to the plaintiffs.

    No telephone or other direct conversations should ever be allowed between prospective and former employers or HR departments. This should be subject to audit.

    There should be a form that the previous employer fills out and gives to the employee that details all legal aspects that are relative to any prospective employer.

    This is the only way to prevent this problem.

    1. Donkey Molestor X

      Re: No settlement, EVER....

      > All these companies need to be fined by at least 10% of revenue and there needs to be full legislation > against their employment "Cabal" ever raising its ugly head again.

      I have no idea who downvoted you but to whoever that person is: please do the game-theoretical "right thing" and defect from the sad dilemma you've imprisoned yourself in. Whatever money you're getting thrown on AMZN mTurk or elance to do pro-bigcorp vote brigading and shilling is chicken-feed compared to what you could make in a job market where salary-fixing cartels are regularly exposed and punished. Just do a MOOC or a codecademy course. Get an education and get an honest job. Stop shilling and get on our level.

      You have nothing to lose but your chains!

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: No settlement, EVER....

        Giving 10% of annual revenue to said employees is ridiculous. They would be so much richer than their peers that everyone else would be jealous they never got screwed over in the first place!

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: No settlement, EVER....

          A class action suit would apply to everyone affected.

          So anybody else working in the valley whose salary was set by "industry norms" also got screwed by this price fixing

        2. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: No settlement, EVER....

          Giving 10% of annual revenue to said employees is ridiculous.

          Of course it is. It the usual knee jerk extremist measure often espoused by certain sections here. It has nothing to do with any sense of justice at all.

          These are huge multinational companies and this is a fairly peripheral issue when assessed against their sheer scale. It is an inevitability that companies of that size will be found wanting from time to time. Putting such huge penalties on matters of this scale does not benefit anyone in the long term.

          So these companies colluded to not actively head hunt each others employees? Outrageous! Find them 10% of turnover! There was an industrial accident causing some limited and localised environmental damage? Disgusting! 10% of turnover! Two employees made a misleading sales pitch without management knowledge or involvement? Despicable! 10% of turnover! There was a balls up in accountancy and incorrect financial data was published? You get the idea.

          These affected employees then end up with nothing - no payout and no job because the companies have collapsed. And no, they can't find find work elsewhere because every other company of any size has collapsed too. How are they benefited exactly? This is precisely what you are advocating, simply because you have let bloody minded vindictiveness cloud any sense of justice or proportion.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: No settlement, EVER....

            The argument that you're trying to do this to prevent companies from doing it to anyone else in the future collapses when you suggest that the employees should get 90% of the loot and 10% of revenue (not profit, revenue!) in these companies is huge! Almost makes me think one of the employees in that class posted that harebrained idea...

            If you want to punish them very harshly, fine, but require it as charitable contributions where the employees' class has approval of the list of charities. The damages paid to the employees should in no event rise above proven actual damages (compare salaries of hires from non-protected companies to those of the non-poachable employees) This isn't a lottery, they are trying to make things right. Where people arrived at the idea that you can get rich if you get screwed over and then claim you're doing it to prevent it happening to others I don't know. Please, let me be so "screwed" that I get a windfall of multi millions of dollars!

            The idea of basing the fines on revenue is stupid, because it punishes companies very differently. Apple and Google have high margins and could pay 10% of revenue and still have profit left over. A company like Samsung that has a lot of low margin businesses like appliances would be thrown into a large loss. Not to mention an agreement not to poach that involved only high tech employees in the computer/smartphone market shouldn't have revenue/profits made in washing machines counted as well. Had Samsung been involved in this collusion, would it be fair to punish them so much more harshly?

        3. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: No settlement, EVER....

          Giving 10s of millions to CEOs is also ridiculous and they do it all the time.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BUT...

    I have found that in the UK people working for equivalent companies earn a decent amount less than their american counterparts (even within the same company). That really does suck :(

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: BUT...

      It's a fix!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BUT...

      This is UK companies underpaying technical. Nothing new here.

      You can still get an decent salary in the UK as a techie. You just need to work for a non-UK company (I have been filing any UK company jobs into the round folder for years now and will never go back to work for a UK company).

    3. Borg.King

      Re: BUT...

      The tax burden is less in the US too, well at least here in Washington, California not so much.

      Get yourself over to the US Embassy and apply for a visa/green card and solve the problem.

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    It won't be long

    Before these companies no longer have to collude to keep their employee overhead down.

    These are the same companies who are investing billions in AI, one of the reasons is bound to be that a fair proportion of expensive, trouble making meatsacks will be let go and replaced with a chunk of the cloud. Even the HR colluders will no longer be so necessary when the bulk of the work force is electronic.

    Arguably even Ms Koh could be out of a job, what could be more impartial and perfectly programmed than an AI?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: It won't be long

      Arguably even Ms Koh could be out of a job, what could be more impartial and perfectly programmed than an AI?

      The problem is the "perfectly programmed" part... since humans would do the programming, it'll be innately flawed. If outsourced, even moreso. If they use a program to write the AI program, the chain still leads back to the original program. But we can dream that such a thing might be possible.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: It won't be long

        I think El Reg definitely needs an Irony icon!

  5. Speltier

    Kinda small

    NYT shows 400-500 million (dollars).

    Basically implied the lawyers rolled over for quick bucks in hand now vs. maybe many more bucks by jury roulette if they prevailed-- who cares about the plaintiffs, I want mine now attitude (25% of the haul, not chicken feed).

    When the combined value of the companies is north of a trillion dollars, a 0.1% settlement seems pretty small. But even weirder is these companies exist only as the sweat of the worker, the hubris of the c-suite in oppressing the worker seems pretty bizarre and self destructive. A better settlement would be: the 400+ million, and any repeat offense in the next 10 years results in nullification of all c-suite personnel and HR personnel contracts (i.e., no pay/no options/pension/etc. and excludes no-competes which would remain in effect just for good measure!) plus claw back of any exercised options plus penalty payments... put a few teeth in the settlement, not a drooling toothless gum flapping wrist slap.

    1. O RLY

      Re: Kinda small

      It's funny you mention the non-competes. The C-level people enforce them by collusion for the peons, but then break them using lawyers to hire execs from other companies. "Good for thee but not for me"

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/06/26/ibm-dell-idUSN2633975020090626

    2. Borg.King

      Re: Kinda small

      Non-competes are practically unenforceable in the Valley.

      1. O RLY

        Re: Kinda small

        They are unenforceable as a legal document, but they are easy to enforce when a company simply refuses to hire from a list of companies who have colluded to suppress employee wages and flexibility. Thus the lawsuit.

      2. JoeF

        Re: Kinda small

        Non-competes are not only "practically unenforceable." They are actually not valid in CA at all (there are a few exceptions.)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-compete_clause#California

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