Silicon Valley firms to settle hiring suit

Four major Silicon Valley companies have agreed to pay $324.5 million to settle claims brought by employees who accused them of limiting competition by colluding not to poach each other’s talent.

The settlement, between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe Systems and about 64,000 workers, was disclosed in papers filed late Thursday with a federal court in San Jose.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has been asked to preliminarily approve the accord at a June 19 hearing, over an objection by one of the four named plaintiffs, Michael Devine, who says the settlement let the companies off too easily.

The workers are likely to receive an average of $4,000 apiece under the settlement. Lawyers for the plaintiffs may seek up to 25 percent of the settlement amount in legal fees.

Filed in 2011, the lawsuit accused Silicon Valley companies of conspiring to limit competition and keep wages down for engineers, programmers and other technical staff.

The case was closely watched because of the potential $9 billion of damages sought, and occasional revelations into Silicon Valley operations. Among the e-mails that became public were pointed ones from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs that at times admonished then-Google chief executive Eric Schmidt to stop raiding his company.

— Reuters

Lawmakers back early retirement

German lawmakers on Friday approved a pension overhaul package that included a much-
criticized provision for some people to retire early on full pensions.

Germany is raising the retirement age to 67 from 65, but it plans to allow people who have paid pension contributions for 45 years to retire at 63 without a financial hit. The latter policy met opposition from business leaders but was included at the insistence of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-left coalition partners.

The package also features higher pensions for mothers who stayed at home, advocated by Merkel’s conservatives. Annual costs are expected to total up to $15 billion.

Some business leaders said Berlin is sending the wrong signal by pressing other European countries to raise retirement ages, yet making early retirement easier at home. Germany has forcefully advocated budget discipline as the key to overcoming problems with too much government debt in countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal, all of which needed international bailouts.

The German government slogan for the package is “earned, not given.”

— Associated Press

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