Plaintiff In Wage-Fixing Suit Refuses Chump Change From Tech Companies

Lawsuits and federal investigations against tech companies tend to end one of three ways. Corporations pay a pittance of a settlement, swear they'll do better without admitting guilt, or the whole ordeal is over before it starts. But one plaintiff in the class action wage-fixing case against Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe has declined to roll over.

The New York Times reports that Michael Devine, one of the four plaintiffs named in the suit, wrote a letter to Judge Lucy H. Koh "asking her to reject the deal that his own lawyers negotiated." The 46-year-old freelance programmer said a meager $324 million settlement from corporations who conspired to artificially depress salaries was inadequate:

"The class wants a chance at real justice," he wrote. "We want our day in court."

He noted that the settlement amount was about one-tenth of the estimated $3 billion lost in compensation by the 64,000 class members. In a successful trial, antitrust laws would triple that sum.

"As an analogy," Mr. Devine wrote, "if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not."

According to the Times, this kind of dissent in a class action case is rare. However, Devine thinks he can sway the court if other class members join his plea. He set up a website called Tech Worker Justice and is seeking new legal representation.

If Devine succeeds, it would be a colorful trial:

"There was such embarrassing evidence about the pacts being orchestrated from the very top, and there was such hubris from Jobs and the other chief executives," including Eric E. Schmidt of Google and Paul S. Otellini of Intel, said Orly Lobel, a professor of employment law at the University of San Diego. "It would have been very unpleasant for the companies to reopen all those emails in court."

Unpleasant—and likely more expensive.

To contact the author of this post, please email nitasha@gawker.com.

[Image via Shutterstock]