Another $50 Million Shoe Drops: DreamWorks Settles Wage-Fixing Class Action
In the latest sequel to the ongoing legal drama, DreamWorks has agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class-action based on DreamWorks conspiring with other animation studios not to poach/hire one another’s employees.
As discussed in my prior blogs, there were two major class-actions regarding wage-fixing/anti-poaching agreements. The first involved most of the major animation studios, including Pixar, LucasFilm, Walt Disney, Sony, Blue Sky and others.
The second class-action involved major Silicon Valley titans, like Google, Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle and Intuit. (Id.)
In both cases, defendants were alleged to have agreed not to poach one another’s employees, thereby quashing competition and keeping wages artificially low.
Most of the animation defendants agreed to pay settlements totaling $19 million when “smoking gun” emails came out which clearly showed collusion like the one from Pixar’s VP of Human Resources: “we have a gentlemen’s agreement not to directly solicit/poach from their employee pool.”
Most of the Silicon Valley defendants settled for $415 million when “smoking gun” emails came out which clearly showed collusion like a Google internal memo that we “will not pursue manager level and above candidates for Product, Sales or G&A [General and Administrative] roles –even if they have applied to Google.”
This latest DreamWorks proposed settlement is scheduled for hearing for Court approval in January 2017, leaving Disney/Pixar/LucasFilm as the last animation defendants that have not reached settlement.