Apple, Google appeal judge’s rejection of $325M “no-poaching” settlement

Four big tech companies embroiled in a Silicon Valley hiring controversy are appealing a judge’s decision to reject a settlement that would have seen them pay $325 million to settle a class action case brought engineers and other employees.

According to Reuters, the companies — [company]Apple[/company], [company]Google[/company], [company]Adobe[/company] and [company]Intel[/company] — have described  U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s decision last month as “rigid and formulaic” and suggested that rejecting the deal would serve to waste years of court time.

The underlying controversy turns on an alleged conspiracy by some of the tech world’s biggest names, including the late Steve Jobs of Apple and Sergey Brin of Google, in which their companies agreed not to recruit each others’ employees.

The employees sued to recover wages lost as a result of the conspiracy, leading to the proposed settlement earlier this year. Ordinarily, courts are quick to approve such deals but Judge Koh decided to reject it as too low in light of a similar settlement involving Pixar, Lucas Films and [company]Intuit[/company]. Based on that earlier settlement, Koh said, Apple and the three other companies should offer at least $380 million.

The decision by the four companies to file the appeal may in part amount to a negotiating tactic. The parties have already resumed negotiations and the prospect of years of appellate court litigation could spur the employees to accept a new offer.