Law firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein today announced the filing of a class-action lawsuit against Apple and other tech companies over "no solicitation" agreements that prevented the companies from attempting to hire away each others' employees. The lawsuit, filed by former Lucasfilm engineer Siddharth Hariharan, contends that the anti-poaching agreements limited career opportunities for and instituted artificial salary caps on employees at the companies involved.
"My colleagues at Lucasfilm and I applied our skills, knowledge, and creativity to make the company an industry leader," stated Mr. 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."
"Competition in the labor market results in better salaries, enhanced career opportunities for employees, and better products for consumers," stated [attorney 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 lawsuit alleges that the "no solicitation" agreements first surfaced in 2005 between Lucasfilm and Pixar, with Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, and Intuit all joining the coalition that remained in place until at least 2009. The complaint seeks restitution for lost compensation and treble damages as punishment for the anti-competitive actions.
Specific claims of Apple's involvement in such anti-poaching agreements surfaced in August 2009 when a deal with Google was revealed. The U.S. Department of Justice finalized a settlement in September 2010 that barred Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar from participating in such arrangements.