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Plaintiff In Tech Hiring Suit Asks Judge To Reject Settlement 215

An anonymous reader writes with news that Michael Devine, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing tech firms including Apple and Google of conspiring to keep salaries low, has asked the court to reject a $324 million settlement. "Apple has more than $150 billion in the bank, eclipsing the combined cash reserves of Israel and Britain. Google, Intel and Adobe have a total of about $80 billion stored up for a rainy day. Against such tremendous cash hoards, $324 million is chump change. But that is what the four technology companies have agreed to pay to settle a class action brought by their own employees. The suit, which was on track to go to trial in San Jose, Calif., at the end of May, promised weeks if not months of damaging revelations about how Silicon Valley executives conspired to suppress wages and limit competition. Details of the settlement are still under wraps. 'The class wants a chance at real justice,' he wrote. 'We want our day in court.' He noted that the settlement amount was about one-tenth of the estimated $3 billion lost in compensation by the 64,000 class members. In a successful trial, antitrust laws would triple that sum. 'As an analogy,' Mr. Devine wrote, 'if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not.' 'If the other class members join me in opposition, I believe we will be successful in convincing the court to give us our due process,' Mr. Devine said in an interview on Sunday. He has set up a website, Tech Worker Justice, and is looking for legal representation. Any challenge will take many months. The other three class representatives could not be reached for comment over the weekend."
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Plaintiff In Tech Hiring Suit Asks Judge To Reject Settlement

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  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @10:35AM (#46979039) Homepage Journal

    Which raises the question: Why does the legal system allow settling class action suits? When is that ever a desirable result for the government's interest(stability, rule of law)?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @10:36AM (#46979047)

    Really as much as the libertarian crowd hates unions here, this is the kind of thing they were created to stop- worker exploitation and malfeasance by those who own the means of production.

  • by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @10:40AM (#46979097)
    And even then, if you did, they would make it a condition of the settlement that you not talk about it, that they admit no wrong, and you'd get a couple thousand dollers while they continued their conspiracy ( making it more difficult for everyone to negotiate for higher saleries).
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @10:50AM (#46979183)
    Those of us without the guts to do this should at least cheer on those who do.

    Alternate response: they have already received an opening offer of $324M, how 'bout you?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:02AM (#46979277)

    because .....

    lawyers want it that way, because fast settlements are easy money for the lawyers (who often dont care which side they're on or even if they win or lose, so long as they cash in), and they pad the pocketbooks of those who make, enforce, and interpret the laws.


    big rich businesses and their fat-cat owners and executives want it that way, because fast settlements with (almost always) no admittance of guilt, no airing of dirty laundry, and for a mere fraction of what a suit is for, is what they want, and they stuff those same pockets.

    and as far as 'desired result' for the "government's interests" that's easy.. settlement means less workload for the 'system'.. they dont really care about outcomes, or fairness... because those who allow it to happen, happen to be the ones with the aforementioned pockets... fewer tax dollars supporting the 'system' means more available to give back to the rich via loopholes and credits, or to fund their favorite pork projects.

  • by kick6 ( 1081615 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:23AM (#46979471) Homepage

    When is that ever a desirable result for the government's interest(stability, rule of law)?

    You seem pretty sure that stability, rule of law is the government's interest. Is it? Or is it re-election, campaign finance?

  • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:48AM (#46979675) Homepage

    > Why does the legal system allow settling class action suits?

    Because when all the basic facts are the same, it makes *a lot* more sense to have one trial covering 64,000 victims than it does to have 64,000 trials. The *only* people who benefit from having all those unnecessary trials are the lawyers. If anything, class actions are less profitable for lawyers than the alternative.

    Furthermore, unlike this case (where each plantiff suffered substantial harm: tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each), imagine a case where the harm suffered is small-but-nonzero. (For example, a few years back, the music CDs with the rootkits on them. For most people, the harm is the cost of the CD, around $15. Maybe twice to four times that if you want to include the cost of rootkit removal) In those cases, nobody in their right mind is going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to file a lawsuit to recover $15. So the victim's choice is a class action suit or nothing at all.

  • by peccary ( 161168 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:50AM (#46979687)

    EVERYONE who works in tech has been damaged by this conspiracy. I don't work at Google or Apple, but my compensation is very much influenced by what my employer believes I could reasonably expect to earn if I went to Google.

  • by sodul ( 833177 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:55AM (#46979743) Homepage

    You seem to forget that Google officially raised their employees salary by 10% after Facebook refused to be part of the illegal agreement. In practice because how the bonus was restructured for some people it was probably an effective increase of up to 25% on the final w2. Considering that most 'tech' at google makes more than $100k per year (staff level engineers make more than $250k per year). multiply that by the number of years this has been going on, and the claimed damage does not seem inflated anymore.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:57AM (#46979761)

    because class action lawsuits are supposedly much cheaper per person than one person... a one person lawsuit would just get totally overpowered by a corporation until he was destitute and couldnt afford to continue the lawsuit.

    Because a class action helps solve the "steal from many" problem.

    What's worse for society - someone that steals $1M from someone else? Or something that steals $1 from 1M people? The outcome is the same, yet there is willingness to pursue the former and ignore the latter.

    Think of it this way - your phone bill goes up $5 per month. Over say, 5M subscribers, that's $25M more revenue per month, or a whopping $300M per year. Well, slightly less... see...

    And you know what? 99.99% of the people won't do a single thing - the cost to write in and complain is more than $5. For those that do the effort, well, just cut them a $5 cheque, or more likely a $5 credit off next month's bill. At which point they'll continue the $5 charge, repeating again.

    Oh, but you can't cancel, because you're in a contract. And some abusive ones really allow for "reasonable increase in costs".

    And now the CEO gets a new yacht and a big fat bonus. Next year they'll ding everyone $2 more.

    The class-action was formed for this abuse - because in the end, most people cannot be bothered to claim back what really amounts to a couple hundred bucks in the end by going to court, and it's easy to buy off those that do by writing them a cheque for the refund after making it as difficult as possible.

  • The lesson of unions is that you can't put things on autopilot. You have to be involved with the union and make sure it is actually representing your interests. You have to notice and care when the senior members are ripping you off. It happens with unions, small gov, big gov, corporations, sole proprietorship.
    Power corrupts, be on guard.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman