Intel Employees in Folsom Receive Holiday Windfall

(Sacramento Bee)  Employees at Intel’s campus in Folsom last week began receiving checks for thousands of dollars as part of a $415 million settlement of a lawsuit involving some of the tech industry’s biggest players.

An attorney who represented plaintiffs in the 2011 class-action lawsuit against California companies Intel, Apple, Google, Adobe, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit confirmed that checks were being distributed to plaintiffs who participated in the class action.  The total number in the class totaled more than 50,000, according to Joseph Saveri of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm in San Francisco.

Saveri said he did not know how many Intel workers on the Folsom campus had received checks, and he declined to offer details on the range of payment amounts.  Roughly 6,000 people work at the Folsom site.

“Frankly, we’ve been trying to protect the privacy of these people,” he said.

The checks are believed to range from a couple thousand dollars to nearly $10,000.

An employee at Intel’s Folsom campus said the checks arrived in the mail and were a surprise.  The employee, who received a check and asked to remain anonymous, did not know how many Folsom colleagues also received checks.

“A lot of us were pleasantly surprised,” the employee said. “We didn’t quite expect this.”

Officials with Santa Clara-based Intel declined to comment.

After the settlement agreement became public last spring, Intel denied any wrongdoing and said it agreed to a settlement to avoid prolonged litigation.

Some tech industry analysts speculated that the companies named as defendants wanted to avoid trial because it would have exposed in open court details of the cutthroat nature of competition among firms vying for high-tech talent.  Analysts said the ultra-competitive pursuit of talent involved some of the industry’s biggest names, including the late Apple chief, Steve Jobs.

A class-action civil suit filed in 2011 by a former Lucasfilm software engineer and others accused the high-tech companies of forging “no-poaching” agreements from 2005 to 2009.  The suit accused the companies of agreeing not to “cold call” workers employed by rivals.

The suit contended that these agreements not only kept the companies from hiring talent away from one another, it also helped them limit what they paid employees.  It was followed by other class-action lawsuits by tech industry workers who claimed they had been adversely affected by the alleged agreements.

Saveri speculated that “because of reduced competition for their services, compensation for skilled employees at Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar was reduced by 10 to 15 percent” during the period of alleged anti-poaching practices.

The class actions followed a 2010 Department of Justice antitrust probe into the practices by the high-tech companies.  The federal action resulted in a settlement in which the companies agreed to not poach employees.  However, class-action defendants continue to pursue their claims because they received no compensation under that settlement.

Various settlements were finalized–$20 million in settlements with defendants Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit–but the major settlement of $415 million was announced in early 2015.  That settlement resolved all outstanding claims against Intel, Adobe, Apple, and Google and was more than the $380 million threshold spelled out by Judge Lucy Koh with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

In court documents, the class eligible to receive settlement funds included salaried workers in the “technical, creative, and/or research and development field” at Intel, Adobe, Apple, and Google within the 2005-09 time frame.  Those excluded from the class included “retail employees, corporate officers, members of the boards of directors, and senior executives of all defendants,” according to court documents.

Koh issued a final judgment on the settlement on Sept. 2.

(Reporting by Mark Glover)