In the technology industry, the right skills carry big salaries and competition for able employees can be fierce. Just as fierce, are the legal ramifications when employers collude to keep salaries artificially low. That ferocity was felt by some big names this week as, Adobe Systems, Intel, Google and Apple settled a three-year-old class action lawsuit with 64,000 employees for allegedly conspiring to suppress worker pay.

The tech giants are accused of working together to prevent engineers and other skilled laborers from switching to better paying jobs with other companies within the circle. The settlement prevents probes that may have sullied the reputations of top-brass executives at these companies, including the late Steve Jobs.

Documents disclosing the settlement agreement will be filed on May 27, when the trial was originally scheduled to begin. Thus far, details have not been revealed; however, with an estimated $9 billion in damages potentially on the table from the companies, the settlement is likely a safe play.

Apple and Google have yet to release comments, but in a statement to the Associated Press, Intel Corp. spokesman Chuck Mulloy said that the settlement was struck, “to avoid the risks, burdens and uncertainties of ongoing litigation.”

If the settlement figures Pixar Animation, Lucasfilm and Intuit agreed to in 2013 are any indication, the price tag is likely to be in the tens of millions. Named in the original suit, those companies paid out an estimated $20 million to workers to escape further litigation.

Initial discovery in the case unearthed incriminating communications including one from Google co-founder Sergey Brin in which he tried to get Facebook to play ball. Additionally, the Department of Justice filed complaint against the companies in 2010 was settled in 2012 with the companies involved agreeing to make there agreements with employees less restrictive.


For more stories at the cross roads of technology and law, check out these stories:

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