The tech industry giants have been sued by a Californian man, Siddharth Hariharan, who claims that they have worked out “no head-hunting deals” with one another.
The lawsuit claims that senior executives agreed to remove competition among them for skilled labour. This stopped employees from those companies getting the sort of cash they deserved, it says.
Hariharan, who is a former Lucasfilm employee, said workers at Lucasfilm applied “our skills, knowledge, and creativity to make the company an industry leader”.
He said that it was disappointing that, while the workers 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.
Hariharan wants restitution for lost compensation as well as treble damages for those salaried employees working at the companies from January 1, 2005, to January 1, 2010.
He has a fair bit of case history on his side.
All the companies were hit by a 2009 antitrust investigation by the US Department of Justice. That was settled last year, with the companies agreeing to discontinue the use of “do not cold call” lists.
Nonetheless, the suit says the companies are still profiting in the aftermath of the practice.
Meanwhile the DOJ does not want to seek to compensate employees who were injured by defendants’ agreements.
If the class action does not happen workers will not receive compensation for their injuries, and defendants will “continue to retain the benefits of their unlawful collusion.”
According to the lawsuit, the practice began with Pixar and Lucasfilm in 2005, before expanding to include Apple and Adobe. It looks like the genius who came up with the plan to shaft workers could have been Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The lawsuit said that it was Jobs who made the deal while he was still the CEO of Pixar. Apple is said to have entered into a deal with Google “no later than 2006” that put both companies on each other’s “do not cold call” lists.
A year later, similar deals are said to have been made between Apple and Pixar, Google and Intel, and Google and Intuit.
According to the lawsuit, tens of thousands of employees could be out of pocket thanks to the brilliant plan to freeze the job market and the expense of employees.