Apple and Google, among other Silicon Valley companies, are being sued for allegedly agreeing not to recruit one another’s employees, which, if true, would violate antitrust laws.
Plaintiff Siddarth Hariharan, a former Lucasfilm software engineer, also named Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm in the antitrust lawsuit, claiming all those companies entered into a secret pact, which effectively capped employee salary rates.
“It’s disappointing that, while we were working hard to make terrific products that resulted in enormous profits for Lucasfilm, senior executives of the company cut deals with other premiere high tech companies to eliminate competition and cap pay for skilled employees,” Hariharan stated in the complaint.
Hariharan is seeking restitution for lost compensation, and if he is correct, may be the first of “tens of thousands” of employees bringing similar claims to light.
The suit echoes a Justice Department investigation into hiring practices launched in 2009, which charged the same companies of violating anti-solicitation agreements on extending job offers to employees.
The DoJ prohibited the tech giants from any interlocking agreements that prohibit direct hiring solicitations. According to the complaint, Apple had no cold-calling agreements with Adobe, Google and Pixar while Google had the same agreement in place with Intel and Intuit.
Although the suit was settled last year, Hariharan’s complaint says the companies are still profiting from the practice, reducing the competition for skilled employees at these firms 10 to 15 percent.
The lawsuit might win very few public supporters in a bruised economy with high unemployment levels, however, since base pay in the tech industry is relatively high.
The average salary for Silicon Valley employees go up to the six-figures, with software engineers taking home $80,000 to $98,000, while top senior positions are at $122,000 and above.
Additionally, Google’s employees were treated just last December to across the board raises and bonuses in an effort to retain their talents as the search engine giant embarks are on a series of new initiatives.
Beyond the recently padded paycheck, Google employees rank it as one of the best employers in the country, with generous benefits and amenities, including in-house massage chairs, day care centers and a gym.
And while Apple employees can’t boast of the availability of workplace pet-sitting services, many cite excellent cultural diversity and an innovative work environment.