Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel have settled a lawsuit that alleged all four companies conspired together to not poach each other’s employees in a bid to avoid starting a salary feud. The lawsuit accused the companies of simultaneously holding down salaries which would prevent staff from seeking alternative jobs with more lucrative wages.
The lawsuit which had been filed on behalf of 64,000 employees, across all four companies is reported to have been seeking $3 billion in damages. The case is reported to have been settled for an undisclosed sum, just ahead of a court date in May.
Reports state that there was an alleged anti-poaching plot between all four companies including senior figures at Google such as Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and the late Steve Jobs of Apple as well. The companies have admitted to a pact between them that did not allow staff to be poached from each other was true, but the pact only applied to a handful of situations, and was not based upon the intent to keep staff’s salaries down.
In 2005 Steve Jobs is reported to have sent an email to Sergey Brin saying:
“If you hire a single one of these people, that means war.”
Sources also claim that emails were exchanged between the former bosses of Apple and Google, Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, with one email in particular discussing that a recruiter working for Google would be fired for head-hunting an Apple employee.
Pixar and Lucasfilm, both previously governed by Steve Jobs, and Intuit have reportedly settled a similar case just last year for $20 million, yet the case still has to be approved by the court.
Intel and Adobe have both released statements defending the conduct of their recruitment ethics, whilst Apple and Google have declined to make any comment at all. Adobe has said that:
“We firmly believe that our recruiting policies have in no way diminished competition for talent in the marketplaces.”
A spokesperson for Intel made this following statement to explain that Intel’s actions were to:
“Avoid the risks, burdens and uncertainties of ongoing litigation.”
If this controversial case had been tried in court and the companies lost, they would have had to pay out a hefty sum of $9 billion. This case has shed some more light on what some believe to be the secretive world of Silicon Valley’s unorthodox hiring practises. Proving that in the world of some elite companies - exists an underworld of suppressing employees’ salaries.