Late yesterday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals "paved the way" for a class action lawsuit from tech workers against Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, and Systems Inc. for "conspiring to drive down pay by not poaching each other's staff." Around 60,000 workers will be allowed to sue as a group and pursue "what the defendants said could exceed $9 billion of damages."

The case began in 2011, when five engineers sued those companies alleging an "overarching conspiracy" to drive down pay. Much of the case is built on emails from top officials, including emails between Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, Google's former CEO.

According to Reuters, when the case was initially filed:

These defendants were accused of violating the Sherman Act and Clayton Act antitrust laws by conspiring to eliminate competition for labor, depriving workers of job mobility and hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

Class certification can make it easier for plaintiffs to extract larger awards, at lower cost than if they sued individually. It could also add pressure on defendants to settle.

If you want to read the linguistically blah, but thematically juicy emails from Schmidt and Jobs, check out the filing below.

Steve Jobs to Google 'Stop Recruiting Apple Employees' - High-Tech Employee Antitrust by Deepak Gupta (DG)