Suit alleges salary fixing among major tech companies

Several tech companies are again finding themselves in hot water over their hiring practices, as they were sued in California Superior Court on Wednesday over allegations of conspiring to fix employee pay. Named in the suit are Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Inuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, among others.

Former Lucasfilm employee Siddharth Hariharan is the lead plaintiff in the suit, which seeks class action status. He says the companies over the years signed deals with one another that eliminated competition in the job market, as well as placed caps on the pay of skilled workers.

Collusion in hiring practices has already been the subject of a Justice Department investigation, which was settled last year. At that time, all of the defendants named in the suit save for Lucasfilm agreed to not enter into any more deals which prevented the solicitation of each others employees.

This suit seems to take things further, alleging the companies also conspired to keep employee salaries artificially lower through sharing offer data for prospective employees with competitors as to prevent higher counteroffers.

It also seeks compensation for those affected. "The DOJ has confirmed that it will not seek to compensate employees who were injured by Defendants' agreements," the suit reads. "Without this class action, Plaintiff and members of the class will not receive compensation for their injuries, and Defendants will continue to retain the benefits of their unlawful collusion."

Hariharan is asking the court to award those in the suit threefold damages (commonly refered to as "treble damages"), as well as void all such agreements between the companies in the suit. Employees of the companies between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2010 are being asked to be covered by the class action.

It is estimated that the alleged deals may have cut the potential salaries of employees at the companies by as much as 15 percent. "Tens of thousands" of employees may have been affected, the suit claims.

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