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Summary:

It’s going to be an extra payday for thousands of Silicon Valley engineers after some of the region’s biggest employers agreed to settle a lawsuit over an illegal pact not to hire each others’ employees.

More than 60,000 California engineers are poised to collect a windfall after four of Silicon Valley’s largest employers agreed to settle a closely-watched class action suit that alleged the companies entered into illegal pacts not to poach one another’s employees.

A court filing, first reported by Reuters, shows that Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel have agreed to settle the case. The filing does not provide financial details but Reuters cites sources saying the settlement is worth $324 million. The deal will have to be approved by the court, and is likely to include a contingency of around 20 percent to the lawyers who brought the case.

The case, filed in 2011, has been a hot topic for gossip in Silicon Valley, in part because of salacious details such as the role of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in organizing and enforcing the pact, and the mysterious death of one of the named plaintiffs in the case. Recent emails have also shown how Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg declined an invitation from Google to join the illegal pact.

Companies’ recruiting each others’ employees has long been a sensitive issue among the tech firms of Silicon Valley, where competition to hire and keep top engineers is ferocious. The settlement means that a reported 64,613 engineers will share the settlement; they had claimed $3 billion in lost wages.

The four companies created the pact in part because California courts frown on non-compete agreements in employment contracts.

This story was updated at 7:40pm ET to include the financial details

  1. Windfall? Take that $324M and cut it in half for legal fees and costs. Then divide it by 64,613 engineers. That’s $2,500 apiece. I think the companies (and lawyers) got the windfall.

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  2. My bad. On re-reading the article, it appears the engineers will get 80% of the settlement. So they get a whopping $4,000. Doesn’t change my opinion about who got the windfall.

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  3. Based on average salaries of $150k, that makes it 3 days worth of pay … windfall indeed.

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