Judge rejects Apple, Google $325 million anti-poaching settlement, firms appeal

Judge Lucy Koh has rejected the offer as too low, but the companies aren't taking the decision lying down.

Credit: Apple

Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe have attempted to settle a class-action lawsuit over Silicon Valley hiring practices, but a judge has rejected their offer as too low -- leading the companies to appeal the decision.

The companies have been accused of conspiring in a secret anti-poaching gentlemen's agreement in order to keep wages at an agreed upon level, prevent competitive hiring and reduce the risk to each firm of losing valuable, skilled employees -- as well as increasing individual profitability. The class-action lawsuit, originally filed in 2011, involves five former members of staff who claim the secret deal impacted upon their career development and opportunities.

Emailed correspondence between late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt in 2007 to prevent Apple engineer headhunting is among the evidence submitted concerning the alleged conspiracy.

Last month, a total of $324.5 million was proposed to settle the class-action lawsuit, but US District Judge Lucy Koh rejected the amount. When turning down the settlement offer, the judge -- who has also presided over other technology-related cases including patent disputes between Apple and Samsung -- said there was "substantial and compelling evidence" which placed the late co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs at the heart of the alleged conspiracy. In addition, Koh claimed the figure of $324.5 million was too low and all the defendants should " pay their fair share ."

As reported by Reuters, a court filing from the firms late on Thursday appealed Koh's decision, claiming the judge "committed clear legal error" and "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."

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has been asked to overrule Koh's decision, and a hearing before Koh has been scheduled for 10 September.

See also: Apple struck with lawsuit over missing pay packets and breaks

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