Tech firms accused of conspiring to keep pay low

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Apple, Google and several other tech companies have been conspiring to keep wages down, a new lawsuit alleges.

On behalf of Siddharth Hariharan, a former software engineer at Lucasfilm, law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein is filing a class action lawsuit claiming that Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar have violated antitrust laws by conspiring to fix the pay of their employees and entering into 'No Solicitation' agreements with each other.

"My colleagues at Lucasfilm and I applied our skills, knowledge, and creativity to make the company an industry leader," says Hariharan.
"It's disappointing that, while we were working hard to make terrific products that resulted in enormous profits for Lucasfilm, senior executives of the company cut deals with other premiere high tech companies to eliminate competition and cap pay for skilled employees."

According to the complaint, the tech companies signed agreements not to actively recruit each other's employees, and promised to notify one another when a job offer was made - without the knowledge or consent of the employee. They also, it says, agreed to cap initial pay packages.

"Competition in the labor market results in better salaries, enhanced career opportunities for employees, and better products for consumers," saysHariharan's lawyer, Joseph Saveri.

"We estimate that because of reduced competition for their services, compensation for skilled employees at Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar was reduced by 10 to 15 percent. These companies owe their tremendous successes to the sacrifices and hard work of their employees, and must take responsibility for their misconduct."

The complaint follows an investigation last year by the United States Department of Justice. It ended with a settlement agrement under which the companies promised to scrap a 'no cold-calling' deal - which the companies hoped would be enough to see off the prospect of any lawsuits.

However, there was no compensation for employees who believed they'd lost out - which is where yesterday's legal challenge comes in. The suit calls for 'restitution' for lost pay, along with triple damages.