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Judge rejects $324 million settlement from Apple, Google, and others over no-hire scandal

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Judge Lucy Koh of California has rejected a proposed settlement by Apple, Google, and other companies that allegedly agreed to not poach or hire each others' employees. Court documents say that Koh said the $324 million settlement wasn't high enough to compensate for the lost wages employees may have suffered. The companies first proposed the settlement in April; now, they'll need to go back to the drawing board and come back with a higher number in order to avoid taking the issue to trial.

The case in question involves four companies: Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe. Workers claim that from 2005 to 2009, company executives had routinely collaborated to keep from hiring employees away from their jobs — an anti-competitive practice. Emails from Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, and others seemed to show them asking each other to stop recruiting from each others' companies, entering into surreptitious "gentlemen's agreements." Judge Koh certified the case as a class-action lawsuit in October of last year, making over 64,000 workers eligible to receive damages to compensate them for potentially having their wages kept artificially low.

In the court filing, Judge Koh maintains that there is "ample evidence of an overarching conspiracy" between the companies. They've already settled with some of the plaintiffs, and Koh says that among other things, she's concerned that this settlement offers significantly less money to the rest of the employees. She suggests that the minimum amount should be $380 million, based on the amount that the companies paid out when settling previous complaints. The case has been going on for several years now, but if the companies agree to a higher number, it could finally come to a close.