A few yew months ago we discussed agreements by tech giants not to poach one another’s employees. Basically the DOJ was looking into whether employers were stifiling the move of employees as well as salary increases through tacit agreements. There have been other investigations and lawsuits as well including a long-running class action lawsuit against Google, Apple, and others. In that case, which dates back to the 1980s, the trial Court rejected a $324 million settlement proposed by the parties.
Supposedly, a trial will expose unflaterring emails from Steve Jobs and agreements between various Silicon Valley firms not to hire each others employees. One expert believes that settlement number should approach a billion dollars:
A settlement that is more in the billion-dollar ballpark would likely be viewed by the court as within the zone of reasonableness, said Orly Lobel, a professor of employment and labor law at the University of San Diego. Such a figure would be closer to one-third of the potential win in trial.
Regardless of the outcome, agreements between employers not to poach employees may be good for them but undermine the ability of employees to change jobs and make more money. There has been significant discussion over this summer over the negatives involved with non-competes and legislation banning them in some states. There is a significant distinction between a non-compete (that the employee knowingly agrees to) versus an agreement between employers that the employee has no idea about. “Fixing” the high-tech employment market has been well publicized. The question is what other industries is this going on in?