SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly 60,000 high-tech workers are likely to receive an average of $4,000 apiece in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging Apple and Google conspired in an illegal cartel of Silicon Valley employers that secretly refused to recruit each other’s engineers.
The estimate is based upon an analysis of court documents in the case, including the terms of a $324.5 million settlement outlined for the first time in a filing made late Thursday.
The final amounts paid to each of the eligible workers will vary depending on their salaries during the four-year period covered by the lawsuit.
A federal judge still must approve the settlement, which is facing resistance from one of the workers representing the entire class.
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A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for June 19 in a San Jose, Calif., federal court.
The $324.5 million settlement will be paid by Apple, Google and two other Silicon Valley companies, Intel and Adobe Systems, accused of colluding to corral their top technology workers.
The 3-year-old lawsuit, triggered by an earlier U.S. Department of Justice investigation, uncovered evidence that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and top executives from the other companies in the case had reached “no-poaching” pacts prohibiting each other from trying to lure away each other’s top workers with offers of higher-paying jobs.
Three other companies, Intuit, Pixar Animation and Lucasfilm, named in the lawsuit reached a separate $20 million settlement that has been approved by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. Intuit paid $11 million of that settlement, with Pixar and Lucasfilm — both now owned by Walt Disney Co. — covering the remainder.
The lawsuit depicted Apple and Google as the ringleaders of the alleged misconduct. The settlement represents a pittance for Apple and Google, which held a combined $210 billion in their bank accounts through March.
It is also a fraction of the $3 billion that the class-action attorneys had been seeking in the case.
Because the complaint raised antitrust violations, the damages could have been tripled to $9 billion had the companies been found liable in a trial.
A $3 billion to $9 billion award would have translated into average payments of $50,000 to $150,000 for the affected workers.
Programmers, software developers and computer scientists make an average of $80,000 to $110,000 annually, depending on their specific duties, according to the latest wage data from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The class action represents 64,600 technology workers employed at some point from 2005 through 2009 at the companies targeted in the lawsuit.