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US Tech Giants Settle Wages Lawsuit with Own Employees

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Four of the USA's largest technology firms are reported to have settled a class action lawsuit that could have seen them fined as much as USD9 billion in wage fixing allegations.

The lawsuit claimed that the four companies -- Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel -- conspired to hold down wages in an agreement to stop them poaching staff from each other's companies.

The firms denied the allegations, but said that the settlement would avoid a costly legal process.

The lawsuit, on behalf of around 64,000 employees is seeking compensation of USD3 billion, which could have been tripled under US anti-trust laws to prevent such collusion between companies.

The number of staff who were actively affected is thought to have been far lower than the class-action lawsuit was filing on behalf of though.

Some of the evidence to be presented a trial that was due to start next month include high level emails between senior company directors actively discussing plans to stop staff being poached by recruitment firms to work for their rivals.

One particularly notorious email exchange cited in the lawsuit was alleged to implicate Google's former CEO telling Apple's Steve Jobs that a Google recruiter who solicited an Apple employee would be fired.

Other emails claimed to show directors telling Human Resources to discuss the issues in person in future so as to not leave a paper-trail in case of future lawsuits.

Chuck Mulloy, spokesman for Intel, said the firm denies any wrongdoing but chose to settle "to avoid the risks, burdens and uncertainties of ongoing litigation."

Adobe said in a statement: "We firmly believe that our recruiting policies have in no way diminished competition for talent in the marketplaces."

Google and Apple have declined to comment.

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Tags: USA