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Recruiting high tech talent is crucial to survival and growth in the highly competitive tech sector where even computer security specialists and web developers can earn in excess of $100,000 per year from Silicon Valley companies. Employees depend on competition to advance their careers, earn more and generate opportunities at competing companies that may offer a better fit, a brighter future or better working conditions.

But what's a high tech employee to do, or workers in any sector or industry, if employers band together and agree not to poach employees from one another? Is such an agreement legal? Do companies violate anti-trust laws by entering into such agreements with one another? Is class action status available to affected employees?

These are just some of the questions raised by a recent lawsuit flied in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, which claims that a who's who of Silicon Valley high tech companies, including Google, Intel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Adobe, Apple and Intuit, entered into a secret no-poaching agreement not to hire each other's best workers. The suit claims this practice allowed the companies to keep wages artificially low, violated antitrust law and prevented bidding wars for top talent.

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