The great and glorious names of the tech business are facing a class action over what might have been a trade cartel to control employee movements.
According to Electronics Weekly US judge Lucy Koh has paved the way for a class action lawsuit against Intel, Apple, Google, Pixar, Adobe, Lucasfilm and Intuit.
She said that there was enough evidence of a sustained personal effort by the corporations’ own chief executives to monitor and enforce no headhunting rules on their employees.
Koh named and shamed Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Pixar President Ed Catmull, Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell and Intel CEO Paul Otellini.
She told lawyers for the plaintiffs to re-model their case against the companies and re-file it to instigate a major class-action suit. When they do this she will hear it.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers hope to have 100,000 clients among the employees of the defendant companies.
It is not as if the tech companies do not know something is afoot. They have already settled similar antitrust claims against them with the US DoJ. However this could cost the tech industry a fortune and force companies to start seeing their employees as people rather than objects.
If the case is proved, it means that the companies ran a secret agreement not to poach each other’s staff and to stop tech experts defecting to other companies. This saved them a fortune because they did not have to pay extra money to keep staff.