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Silicon Valley 'no-hire pact' lawsuit gets class action status for tech workers

Judge makes it easier for IT staff to get bigger payouts from über-rich firms

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The lawsuit against big tech firms like Google and Apple over their hiring practices has been given class action status, making it easier for the workers to lever greater wads of cash out of the companies if they win.

The case alleges a conspiracy between technology firms in Silicon Valley to keep employees' wages down and curb competition by agreeing not to poach each other's workers.

It was kicked off back in 2011 by five software engineers who sued Intel, Apple, Adobe, Google, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar over the alleged "conspiracy", using email exchanges between top execs like Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt to back them up.

Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the plaintiffs could be a class of technical employees that includes software and hardware engineers, component designers, app developers and others, which the plaintiffs reckon could add up to more than 50,000 people.

The original engineers were hoping to get an "all-employee" class, which would have given every salaried worker in the US who worked for the firms between 2005 and 2009, likely to have been over 100,000 folks. But Koh said in April that the case didn't have enough in common with all workers to allow them to sue together.

The firms in the case have already faced the same antitrust charges from the Department of Justice, which managed to get a settlement out of all six companies. ®

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