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Plaintiff in Silicon Valley anti-poaching suit protests settlement, wants 'day in court'

post #1 of 67
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Nearly three weeks after Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe agreed to settle out of court a class action lawsuit over alleged anti-poaching agreements, the case's class representative is requesting the $324 million settlement be rejected as "unfair and unjust."


Anti-poaching suit's Class Representative Michael Devine. | Source: The New York Times


In a letter sent to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh on Sunday, Michael Devine protested the pending settlement agreed to by plaintiffs' lawyers, saying the proposed $324 million settlement is "grossly inadequate." Devine is one of four plaintiffs named in the suit and serves as class representative in the case.

The letter has not yet been made available through official court channels, but Devine posted a copy online, which was subsequently picked up by The New York Times.

In the request, Devine states his belief that the four tech giants are getting off lightly considering the suit asked for $3 billion in damages, a figure that could have been trebled to $9 billion if defendants were found in the wrong. In addition, the $324 million is seen as a slap on the wrist considering each company's massive cash reserves.

"As an analogy, if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing," Devine writes. "Of course not, nor is such a resolution appropriate in our case."

At least part of the argument claims class counsel, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and Joseph Saveri Law Firm, has more to gain from a settlement than the class it represents. In accepting the proposed figure, the two firms could rake in up to $75 million in fees while leaving the 64,000-member class with only a few thousand dollars each.

Further, Devine points out that class counsel did not notify plaintiffs of meetings that ultimately resulted in the settlement.

"I also wish to inform the Court that I was not informed that the most recent round of mediation that lead to the tentative settlement was even taking place until the day after Plaintiffs' and Defendants' counsel had already reached an agreement," the letter reads. "I should have been notified of this mediation so that I could substantively participate and fulfill my duties as Class Representative."

According to legal experts it would be difficult for the class to fire its attorneys as they were appointed class counsel by Judge Koh at the start of proceedings. In lieu of expelling its current lawyers, class members would need to object to the proposed settlement with a set of newly hired attorneys, arguing that the formerly agreed upon number is insufficient.

It is unclear whether Judge Koh will be receptive to a rejection, especially with $324 million on the table. On the other hand, the sum represents only three percent of a potential trebling of damages, which may not be seen as sufficient in the eyes of the court.

Not taking the suit to trial is perhaps in the best interest of Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe, seeing as the companies' supposedly dirty laundry would be aired. A number of revelations have already come out as part of the case. For example, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was quite vocal when it came to hiring practices and allegedly made "threats" to fellow tech CEOs regarding non-recruitment policies of then-current Apple employees.

post #2 of 67
Oh, shut the **** up you fucking whiner. This guy lives in a fantasy world where he imagines he would have gotten "poached" and became a millionaire if it wasnt for this agreement. Accept the settlement and move on with your life, do something useful, instead of being a gold-digging parasite.
post #3 of 67

Boo hoo. Whatever.

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post #4 of 67

I think they should have gotten nothing...how about that!

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post #5 of 67
Shut it bud. You have or have had a good paying job. You have access to clean drinking water, food and health care. You're just a whiny, over privileged punk who needs a taste of reality.
post #6 of 67

I thinks someone is being greedy, the same thing the suit was saying about Apple had their cohorts. Really if he did not want to share all the money he should not have invited so many people and their lawyers into his lawsuit then. 

 

What his lawyers realize they had a huge up hill battle proving that people lost that much in wages over that period of time.


Edited by Maestro64 - 5/13/14 at 6:39am
post #7 of 67
To the previous commenters, your understanding of the situation is juvenile. You think that just because he has, or could earn more money than you he has less rights? Companies love people like you. You allow them to treat us the way they do.
post #8 of 67

Sure, stand out front of Adobe, in the Seattle Freemont District. Great district, greedy lawyer.

post #9 of 67
@Slurpy, macexpress, maestro Why is it fair for Apple, Google, Adobe to be greedy and do all the wrong things in the world and not this guy. Are you guys really working for free ? and underpaid? Lawyers always work in the interest of themselves they never work for clients or for the system. If there are worst creatures than leechers that would be lawyers.
Think logically. $324M /64,000 each employee would roughly get $2000 before taxes after lawyer fee and stuff. There is a reason why he is fighting you won't know the pain as you didn't get impacted.
post #10 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by NotTylerDurden View Post

To the previous commenters, your understanding of the situation is juvenile. You think that just because he has, or could earn more money than you he has less rights? Companies love people like you. You allow them to treat us the way they do.

 

 

Arguing by calling people's understanding of the situation juvenile is sort of juvenile. How is it about fewer rights? He agreed to be the class representative for the class using said lawyers. The reality is a settlement is about compromise. Plainitiff's lawyers always ask for an unreasonable amount up front knowing full well they will never get what is asked for.

 

Moreover, I am unconvinced Apple and company did anything wrong (and I consider myself to be pretty liberal in terms of politics). They stuck an agreement amongst partners (all the companies where working together on various projects) that said they would not actively solicit each others employees. Why is it that partners can't strike an agreement not to actively solicit each others employees? The agreement did not prevent the partners from hiring each others employees that applied for posted jobs, and actively soliciting companies employees who are partnered with one another undermines the partnerships.

 

This lawsuit sets a dangerous precedent that essentially says a company has an obligation to use recruiters to actively pursue partners employees.  That is absurd. There is a realistic chance the plaintiffs would have lost at trial or years later on appeal. 

post #11 of 67
I like Apple's products, but nothing from this case supports such a low cost settlement. The lawyers got a $75 million payday for minimal work and possibly promise of access to the corporate work of these large companies. If the suit had actually involved just ending head hunting of each others employees it would have been at least less sleazy. The final result of this was a freeze on hiring each others employees. That is much less acceptable and should be punished.
post #12 of 67

Even his analogy rings wrong - flat out lifting an iPad and paying nothing. Not saying that I support his argument but if I understand his position, it would be more analogous to someone going to an Apple store, selecting a $400 iPad and paying $370 for it and leaving the store, even though it wasn't on discount. He wasn't paid nothing for his work, just less that he thinks he wouldn't gotten if the companies hadn't colluded.

 

I think that the companies were mostly trying to protect their internal projects from pilfering by headhunting. But NDAs would've have accomplished the same thing, perhaps. Those can be hard to enforce I imagine. But I get the umbrage, I just don't know how you assign a number to it with any accuracy.

post #13 of 67
Oh dear, you have no idea...
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post


Arguing by calling people's understanding of the situation juvenile is sort of juvenile. How is it about fewer rights? He agreed to be the class representative for the class using said lawyers. The reality is a settlement is about compromise. Plainitiff's lawyers always ask for an unreasonable amount up front knowing full well they will never get what is asked for.

Moreover, I am unconvinced Apple and company did anything wrong (and I consider myself to be pretty liberal in terms of politics). They stuck an agreement amongst partners (all the companies where working together on various projects) that said they would not actively solicit each others employees. Why is it that partners can't strike an agreement not to actively solicit each others employees? The agreement did not prevent the partners from hiring each others employees that applied for posted jobs, and actively soliciting companies employees who are partnered with one another undermines the partnerships.

This lawsuit sets a dangerous precedent that essentially says a company has an obligation to use recruiters to actively pursue partners employees.  That is absurd. There is a realistic chance the plaintiffs would have lost at trial or years later on appeal. 
post #14 of 67
I agree with the plaintiff. When I heard the settlement I thought it was ridiculous. Each class member would only get abou 5K and that's before lawyers fees. They should each get hundreds of thousands!
post #15 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

 

 

Arguing by calling people's understanding of the situation juvenile is sort of juvenile. How is it about fewer rights? He agreed to be the class representative for the class using said lawyers. The reality is a settlement is about compromise. Plainitiff's lawyers always ask for an unreasonable amount up front knowing full well they will never get what is asked for.

 

Moreover, I am unconvinced Apple and company did anything wrong (and I consider myself to be pretty liberal in terms of politics). They stuck an agreement amongst partners (all the companies where working together on various projects) that said they would not actively solicit each others employees. Why is it that partners can't strike an agreement not to actively solicit each others employees? The agreement did not prevent the partners from hiring each others employees that applied for posted jobs, and actively soliciting companies employees who are partnered with one another undermines the partnerships.

 

This lawsuit sets a dangerous precedent that essentially says a company has an obligation to use recruiters to actively pursue partners employees.  That is absurd. There is a realistic chance the plaintiffs would have lost at trial or years later on appeal. 

   Sorry, call me mister cynical to believe just because the worker applied to a web site he/she would then be considered/hired.   IMO- if Jobs etc put out a 'list'(not saying they did), web sight or no, that person won't be hired. If word got out... don't touch google engineers... no google engineers are going to be hired.

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post #16 of 67

The judge needs to reject this settlement offer. It is just flat out insane and insulting. This needs to go to trial. The truth about the illegal activities and collusion between these super wealthy companies needs to come out. That is the only way the government will know the truth about what each of them did. Then proper safeguards will be able to be implemented to prevent it from happening again within these companies and others not named in the suit. 

post #17 of 67
People who say that all the affected employees (not just this one representative) should just accept this because they are lucky to be alive and working at all... Why shouldn't the same logic apply to Apple, Google and the other companies who did wrong? Why automatically side with the corporations? Shouldn't they "just be grateful" they were able to have talented employees and mess with those employees' lives for so many years while profiting from their labors?

The amount IS a meaningless slap on the wrist, clearly.
post #18 of 67

Workers have too many rights nowadays, and who's fault is it that the lawyers are making away with 75 million, while the plaintiffs only get a few thousand each?

post #19 of 67
I can't believe the stupidity of some of the comments. So you're all for the free market, except when it's inconvenient? The behavior of these companies is as monopolistic, anti-competitive and anti-American as it gets, they held back the salaries of the entire profession back during a period of explosive growth in order to maximize their profits, and they'd be getting away with barely a slap on the wrist! They need to be severely punished. Even a 2 billion fine would be NOTHING compared to how much money they fleeced programmers with their anti-competitive behavior.
post #20 of 67
If you wanted a job somewhere else, why didn't you look for it and apply for it just like the rest of us poor schmucks.

You should get nothing you lazy whiner.
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post #21 of 67
Sore winner.
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post #22 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

If you wanted a job somewhere else, why didn't you look for it and apply for it just like the rest of us poor schmucks.

You should get nothing you lazy whiner.

Because these companies colluded with each other to refuse to hire each others' employees, which had the clear economic objective of depressing wages.

 

If companies want to secure certain people due to high valued skills, they need to negotiate with those individuals and enter into employment contracts with them. Colluding with other companies to agree not to hire them is so anti-competitive, anti-free market, and scummy that I'm wondering how anyone can logically look at the situation and support the companies in this situation. Even the companies themselves knew they were doing wrong. Eric Schmidt had emails where he expressed discomfort with talking about it in emails due to fear of it coming out in litigation.

post #23 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiepaul View Post

Oh dear, you have no idea...

 

 

Well I am only an attorney, but whatever. 

post #24 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordJohnWhorfin View Post

I can't believe the stupidity of some of the comments. So you're all for the free market, except when it's inconvenient? The behavior of these companies is as monopolistic, anti-competitive and anti-American as it gets, they held back the salaries of the entire profession back during a period of explosive growth in order to maximize their profits, and they'd be getting away with barely a slap on the wrist! They need to be severely punished. Even a 2 billion fine would be NOTHING compared to how much money they fleeced programmers with their anti-competitive behavior.

 

 

Yes, except you forget to tell us how the action is anti-competitive. At the time the agreement was made, the companies involved were essentially partners not competitors. They were all working together in some capacity. They made an agreement not to actively recruit each others employees. How is that anti-competitive? 

 

Here is the key: They didn't prohibit each other from hiring one another's employees. How is it American to force partners to actively recruit each others employees? Perhaps, they should actively go after each others spouses as well?  

post #25 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by focher View Post
 

Because these companies colluded with each other to refuse to hire each others' employees, which had the clear economic objective of depressing wages.

 

It is not clear to me the objective was economic. What is clear to me is the various companies were involved in various joint products (e.g. Google working with Apple to bring Google Maps to iOS, Intel working with Apple to provide processors for its products, etc.). They didn't want recruiters actively going after each others employees. Paying recruiters to steal each other employees to undermine their joint efforts. It is disruptive to lose employees responsible for complicated projects. 

 

Further, if the employees were free to apply for listed positions their wages were not depressed.

post #26 of 67

Replied to wrong post.  Moderator may delete.

post #27 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

Workers have too many rights nowadays, and who's fault is it that the lawyers are making away with 75 million, while the plaintiffs only get a few thousand each?

You lost me right there.

post #28 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

People who say that all the affected employees (not just this one representative) should just accept this because they are lucky to be alive and working at all... Why shouldn't the same logic apply to Apple, Google and the other companies who did wrong? Why automatically side with the corporations? Shouldn't they "just be grateful" they were able to have talented employees and mess with those employees' lives for so many years while profiting from their labors?

The amount IS a meaningless slap on the wrist, clearly.

 

I won't side with the corporations. Having seen the salaries top talent achieve they cannot complain. We're talking in the several hundred thousand dollars/year plus large stock options to boot that garners them millions.

 

Those are the ones being head hunted. It has long been common knowledge that top talent job hops not because of new and challenging projects, but double to quadruple base salary increases and when you buy a Ferarri you just don't want to buy a Lexus.

 

In reality, both Executives and top engineers are ludicrously compensated, while the ones who really do most of the work, get the shaft. Change that shaft structure and you won't hear anyone complain, other than the Executives whining they had to work for their money and the top talent being forced to sign NDA and contracts requiring 5 or 10 year agreements if they want those large paychecks. They'll both whine.

 

At least the rest of the staff doing all the actual coding, testing and 80 hour work weeks will finally feel some vindication.

post #29 of 67
So only $300M to limit a market for someone to be employed in? I know Apple's intentions here are to keep fiscal consistency no matter what the cost is but this whole "poaching" thing is what keeps workers paid their proper value.

The right way to do it is to simply offer VIP employees a bonus to stay with the company for x amount of years to cash in. That way the choice is the worker's- NOT the company's.
post #30 of 67

Read the letter the class representative sent to the judge. He explains how a similar situation between other companies proves that salaries went up 10% without such anti-poaching agreements. 

 

How many attorneys always believe what the opposing council tells them? How many believe they are always given all of the facts? Just because the anti-poaching agreement specifically talks about recruiting it doesn't mean that the human resources personnel weren't also told to not hire people from specific companies. 

 

Any agreement to not recruit employees from specific companies, no matter what the reasoning behind it, is an act of collusion to commit a crime. This type of crime held down pay during the time the agreement was being followed. This really needs to go to court with a trial. If the judge makes this settlement agreement stick it will seem fishy to me. 

 

Wouldn't it be something if after a year or so Ms. Koh quits being a judge and becomes a legal consultant to Apple, Google, or any of the other defendants in this case. 


Edited by Smallwheels - 5/12/14 at 7:59pm
post #31 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

People who say that all the affected employees (not just this one representative) should just accept this because they are lucky to be alive and working at all... Why shouldn't the same logic apply to Apple, Google and the other companies who did wrong? Why automatically side with the corporations? Shouldn't they "just be grateful" they were able to have talented employees and mess with those employees' lives for so many years while profiting from their labors?

The amount IS a meaningless slap on the wrist, clearly.

The reason is this. If every company continued to headhunt, it would have created mass chaos with each company going after each other's throats for stealing other key employees. In addition, those employees would still be under NDA which would create even more chaos of who took what IP where, etc. Salaries would rise, but so would legal fees and time spent trying to sort all of this out. I think the net product would be some employees getting richer quicker, but at the cost of burning out, loss of productivity, or just the unsustainable turnover that would have crippled Silicon Valley.

 

Currently there is an economic crisis in the Valley in that those with higher salaries (those that work at these big companies) are squeezing out those at lower economic levels. What would happen if there was no order to this? I think we would see grossly more divergent economic classes which again, may be great for the rich, but may not be great for society on a whole.

 

I think that Steve Jobs proposed a way for the companies to work together and they all, collectively, changed the world in which we live.  It's not a matter of siding with this company or that company, or with siding with the corporations versus the employees.. it's siding with common sense and an organized society.  While these companies agreed to not headhunt employees, they didn't preclude those employees from applying to the other companies and, unless the employee signed a contract, there was nothing keeping them from leaving.  The employee knew full well what the employment contract was.

 

I really believe these individuals are now looking at "what-ifs" now that they are unemployable, probably because they spent all their time trying to milk their employers instead of being passionate about what they do.

 

Honestly, this guy deserves the ridicule from those who don't have what he has. He may have the right to ask for this money, but that doesn't mean hard-working people who don't have the opportunities he had can't call him on his demands.  That's the bed he made for himself so he should probably hire a PR firm with his future payout to deal with that.

post #32 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Oh, shut the **** up you fucking whiner. This guy lives in a fantasy world where he imagines he would have gotten "poached" and became a millionaire if it wasnt for this agreement. Accept the settlement and move on with your life, do something useful, instead of being a gold-digging parasite.

what an oddly personal reaction to the suit. you seem to have overlooked the fact that this is a class action suit, so his aim is not to profit himself (100k, big deal), but to make a bigger dent for the defendants. more power to him and them as plaintiffs. apple and google and the like were guilty.
post #33 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Workers have too many rights nowadays,

wow. the fluoride in the water supply must be working. the workers have too many rights!? that's a gas.
post #34 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post


Yes, except you forget to tell us how the action is anti-competitive. At the time the agreement was made, the companies involved were essentially partners not competitors. They were all working together in some capacity. They made an agreement not to actively recruit each others employees. How is that anti-competitive? 

Here is the key: They didn't prohibit each other from hiring one another's employees. How is it American to force partners to actively recruit each others employees? Perhaps, they should actively go after each others spouses as well?  

oh my god, so much logic fail, my eyes hurt.

if you really don't believe it's anti free market for employers to collude on not hiring market workers for a market price, there's no helping you. you've got the prettiest rose colored glasses I've ever seen!
post #35 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkichline View Post

The reason is this. If every company continued to headhunt, it would have created mass chaos with each company going after each other's throats for stealing other key employees.

oh, you mean like in the rest of the marketplace/world? yet we're getting along fine.
post #36 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by focher View Post

Because these companies colluded with each other to refuse to hire each others' employees, which had the clear economic objective of depressing wages.

Stop lying. There was no such agreement. They agreed not to poach. There was NEVER an agreement that they couldn't hire employees from each other.

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post #37 of 67
Quote:

Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

Why is it that partners can't strike an agreement not to actively solicit each others employees?

 

With due respect to your local bar association, claiming that the defendants were de facto partners strikes me as utterly implausible, and Steve Jobs' own email makes it very clear the motivation was to control wages. Your contention that finding for the plaintiff somehow mandates compulsory poaching seems like an example of reducto ad absurdum, except that you say it more than once and it sounds like you're really trying to convince people that such an outcome could actually occur, which is obviously… well, absurd.

 

I really don't see how there's any ambiguity in this case at all.


Edited by Lorin Schultz - 5/12/14 at 11:09pm

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post #38 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkichline View Post
 
Currently there is an economic crisis in the Valley in that those with higher salaries (those that work at these big companies) are squeezing out those at lower economic levels. What would happen if there was no order to this? I think we would see grossly more divergent economic classes which again, may be great for the rich, but may not be great for society on a whole.

 

Right then, communism it is.

 

Please surrender your car to the man with the arm band. It is now going to be used to transport former software engineers to their new jobs tearing up airports to make room for soybean farms.

 

;)

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post #39 of 67
How many employees sue their employer for being overpaid?

How many companies have overpaid their employees? Did Apple pay Angela too much, or might she sue them because $68 million is not enough for her to live on?
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post #40 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

 

 

Yes, except you forget to tell us how the action is anti-competitive. At the time the agreement was made, the companies involved were essentially partners not competitors. They were all working together in some capacity. They made an agreement not to actively recruit each others employees. How is that anti-competitive? 

 

Here is the key: They didn't prohibit each other from hiring one another's employees. How is it American to force partners to actively recruit each others employees? Perhaps, they should actively go after each others spouses as well?  

 

 

You are being ridiculous. These companies entered a secret agreement where they agreed to not poach each other's employees.

Let me explain this to you in simple terms, since you seem to have a problem with the English language.

I'm an engineer with Apple, with a certain skill level in a specific domain. I'm not looking for another job, but just like any other engineer in the valley my resume is on LinkedIn, because that's what we do. An Adobe recruiter is looking for someone with this exact skill set and they go to LinkedIn to find acceptable candidates. My name comes up, but is automatically rejected. That's not anti-competitive, anti-American behavior? It's specifically DESIGNED to prevent competition.

 

Look, capitalism is all about supply and demand, but if you demand a free market it has to be fair and it works both ways. If I have to put up with salaries going down due to off-shore competition, you also have to allow me to benefit from a bidding war when my skills are in high demand.

 

And what you call "partners", I believe anti-trust lawyers have a term for. It's called a cartel. Look it up.

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