Silicon Valley workers unite in class-action against anti-poaching firms

A class-action trial in the Silicon Valley anti-poaching case is set to go ahead in May after a federal appeals court refused to hear tech companies’ argument that the plaintiffs should not be a class, according to a report in Reuters.

An estimated 60,000 Silicon Valley workers could seek damages for the harm lawyers allege they suffered as a result of a conspiracy by leaders at Apple, Google and other companies not to poach talent from one another. Employees argue that the agreements between the companies not to poach hurt workers in terms of job mobility and compensation. The tech companies estimate that damages could exceed $9 billion.

In 2010, some of the firms settled a case brought by the Department of Justice that accused them of anti-competitive behavior. As Howard Mintz reports, the remaining plaintiffs besides Apple and Google are Intel and Adobe.

The trial should be interesting coming at a time when talent commands a premium. But poaching is what Silicon Valley has long been about. Remember the old saying that if an engineer didn’t like a job, she or he could drive to a different parking lot? But the reality, as this case shows, is that the churn of employees can be highly frustrating for tech leaders.

There is an overlooked upside for companies when employees have job mobility –  ideas potentially flow more freely when employees move from firm to firm.  I don’t mean trade secrets but ways of thinking about technology and products. That constant cross pollination keeps Silicon Valley fresh.

 Above: Steve Jobs in 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)



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  • TCWriter

    It doesn’t matter if churn is frustrating for employers; the ability to freely move between companies is a basic right. And besides, I thought tech companies enjoyed disruption.

  • bob

    Personally, as a tech worker, I don’t quite understand why folks in IT don’t unionize. Unfortunately many in the industry tend towards a libertarian bent but maybe that will change when the IT companies get their way on immigration and hordes of cheap tech workers from India and elsewhere flood the region on more H1B visas.

  • mikeFH

    wonder if my ex will become a party to the action, an Apple employee in the # 2200 series. Retired early, with a net worth of $ 2.8 million. Guess she could claim duress, because she sold too much stock, before it went into high orbit. No complaints from me, appreciate my split on the options. 🙂