Apple, Google, Intel and others are being accused of agreeing not to hire each other's workers by five former employees. Judge Koh has yet to decide whether the case will be granted class action status which could mean higher damages.
Koh said that at the time the no-poaching agreements were forged, top executives felt a collective approach toward hiring was more efficient than dealing with employees individually. "That, I think, is the biggest problem for the defendants," said Koh, who did not identify the executives. However, Koh also closely questioned a key economic analysis commissioned by the plaintiffs, which the judge said had "holes."
Apple attorney George Riley wanted to prevent the questioning of Tim Cook on the basis that he was the COO of the company at the time; however, Koh disagreed with that logic.
"I find it hard to believe a COO would have no say over salary and compensation for all employees," Koh said.
In 2010, the Department of Justice announced a settlement with six high technology companies – Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., Intuit Inc. and Pixar – that prevents them from entering into no solicitation agreements for employees. The department said that the agreements eliminated a significant form of competition to attract highly skilled employees, and overall diminished competition to the detriment of affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities.