The proposed $324.5 million settlement between Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe and tens of thousands of their workers has been rejected by Judge Lucy Koh.
The Judge said that the dollar figure “falls below the range of reasonableness.”
When the proposed agreement broke, TechCrunch called the total proposed restitution “paltry and an embarrassment.” Judge Koh’s decision is the right choice.
The case involves agreements between giant technology companies to not hire each other’s employees. This distorted the labor market, lessening fair competition for talent, and thereby suppressing the compensation of the impacted tech workers.
It’s hard in the current Silicon Valley climate to bemoan the plight of well-paid technology employees. But all the same, workers deserve a fair competitive environment, and efforts by their employers and competitors to stifle their mobility and income isn’t reasonable.
The $324.5 million sum was ludicrous. As I wrote at the time of its proposal:
With 64,000 plaintiffs, the dollar amount per aggrieved, not discounting for lawyers’ fees and the like, is just a touch over $5,000. After fees and taxes the real remuneration to harmed will be essentially zero. That’s just not reasonable.
A figure as high as $9 billion was floated.
It isn’t clear yet what the final tally will be, but at a minimum it should be more than the pittance the rich firms initially agreed to. Watching companies with billions in cash attempt to pay the lowest dollar amount to their own staff that they harmed is irksome and sad.
Wage suppression: It’s the latest Silicon Valley perk.