Four big tech companies embroiled in a Silicon Valley hiring controversy are appealing a judge’s decision to reject a settlement that would have seen them pay $325 million to settle a class action case brought engineers and other employees. According to Reuters, the companies — Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel — have described U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s decision last month as “rigid and formulaic” and suggested that rejecting the deal would serve to waste years of court time. The underlying controversy turns on an alleged conspiracy by some of the tech world’s biggest names, including the late Steve Jobs of Apple and Sergey Brin of Google, in which their companies agreed not to recruit each others’ employees.
Four technology companies including Apple and Google blasted a U.S. judge for rejecting a proposed $324.5 million settlement over hiring practices in Silicon Valley and asked an appeals court to intervene, according to a court filing. Plaintiff workers accused Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe in a 2011 lawsuit of conspiring to avoid poaching each other’s employees. Last month U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, rejected the proposed class action settlement, saying the amount was too low. In a court filing late on Thursday, the companies asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule Koh’s decision. Koh “committed clear legal error” and “impermissibly substituted the court’s assessment of the value of the case for that of the parties who have been litigating the case for more than three years,” they wrote. Adobe declined to comment, as did an attorney for the plaintiffs. Representatives for the other three firms could not immediately be reached for comment. Tech employees alleged that the conspiracy limited their job mobility and, as a result, kept a lid on salaries. The case has been closely watched because of the possibility of big damages being awarded and for the opportunity of a glimpse into the world of some of America’s elite tech firms.