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Judge rejects settlement in technology wage case

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has decided a $324.5 million settlement isn't enough to cover the damages done to more than 60,000 high-tech workers in a class-action lawsuit alleging Google and Apple conspired with other technology companies to block their top employees from getting better job offers.

The ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh scotches a settlement reached in April, prolonging a 3-year-old case that paints a mean-spirited picture of late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs and other prominent Silicon Valley executives.

Koh estimated that the workers deserve at least $380 million, based on the evidence indicating their earning power was undermined by the collusion among their employers.

The settlement would have been paid by Apple, Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc.

The lawsuit alleges they and three other companies — Intuit Inc., Pixar Animation and Lucasfilm — secretly agreed not to recruit each other's workers at various junctures from 2005 through 2009.

Koh indicated that the workers at Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe had built a strong case against their employers.

“There is ample evidence of an overarching conspiracy,” she concluded.

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