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Disney agrees to pay US$100m to end no-poaching lawsuit

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 11:42

[SAN FRANCISCO] Walt Disney agreed to pay US$100 million to resolve claims it colluded with other animation studios to not hire one another's workers in California, where allegations of no-poaching pacts have plagued technology companies for the better part of a decade.

Disney and three of its units are the last remaining defendants in a class-action lawsuit alleging the studios conspired to suppress wages through a "gentleman's agreement" to not recruit each other's workers.

Attorneys for Disney and employees submitted a court filing on Tuesday seeking approval of their settlement.

Comcast Corp's DreamWorks Animation SKG previously agreed to a US$50 million settlement, while two Sony Pictures units and Blue Sky Studios reached deals totaling US$19 million.

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Apple Inc, Google, Intel Corp and Adobe Systems Inc paid US$415 million in 2015 to resolve their part in a similar case that was brought against Silicon Valley technology companies that had been investigated for collusion by the US Justice Department.

Orly Lobel, a law professor at the University of San Diego, predicted Disney's settlement will win approval because it satisfies requirements the agreement is fair, reasonable and adequate.

LAST HOLDOUT

"Given that this was the last holdout, there are already proxies of what should be the lump sum and it seems within the range," Prof Lobel said.

A US$100 million settlement for one large company is proportional to the US$415 million agreed to by several technology giants in the previous case, and the much smaller earlier settlements, she said.

A Disney spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a call after regular business hours seeking comment on the agreement.

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