Apple Sued by Shareholders Over Alleged Anti-Poaching Agreements
One Apple shareholder, on behalf of all shareholders, has decided to sue the Cupertino company over its alleged anti-poaching agreements with other Silicon Valley tech companies, according to Patently Apple (via MacRumors’ Richard Padilla).
The shareholder, R. Andre Klein, filed a derivative complaint against Apple roughly a week after a district judge rejected a proposed $324 million settlement from Apple and a host of other companies including Google, Intel, Adobe, and others, calling that sum "insufficient" and “below the range of reasonableness.”
The shareholders use the same evidence that was used in the class action suit filed by the 64,000-plus current and former employees of those Silicon Valley companies, who accused the tech firms of creating illegal pacts to not hire each others’ employees, particularly their engineers, allegedly to keep wages low and eliminate competition.
The shareholders' lawsuit says the alleged no-hire agreements caused Apple to engage in "breach of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, waste of corporate assets, and breach of the duty of honest services."
The suit seeks damages for all Apple shareholders through a jury trial, and names several company executives as defendants, including current CEO Tim Cook and former CEO Steve Jobs, whose "blunt emails" provided "ample evidence" of an "overarching conspiracy" among those Silicon Valley tech companies.
Of Jobs, Judge Lucy H. Koh of the US District Court in San Jose said he is "a, if not the, central figure in the alleged conspiracy."
In emails between Jobs and other employees and executives, which were published in early 2013, the late Apple founder complained to Google's then-CEO about a Google recruiter contacting an Apple engineer, which resulted in a Google HR executive's termination; in another email, he told a Palm executive to stop trying to recruit Apple staffers, citing "the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies."
The lawsuit will proceed to trial unless the tech companies decide to propose another settlement to the judge, but as The New York Times points out, that offer would likely need to be in the billions.
We've embedded a copy of the class action lawsuit here:
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