DreamWorks Animation has reached a settlement with employees over a 2014 class-action lawsuit claiming the company, along with other visual effects and animation companies, conspired to suppress worker wages.
Documents filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, revealed that the company agreed to pay $50 million to a settlement fund, which will then be distributed among all the plaintiffs.
Filed in December 2014 on behalf of Robert Nitsch, who was a senior character effects artist at DreamWorks Animation from 2007 to 2011, the suit alleged that the plaintiffs — which also included Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Animation, Pixar and Lucasfilm — violated antitrust laws by using “non-poaching” agreements to suppress wages.
The court papers noted that the “conspiracy” was initiated by some of the “most recognizable names in American Entertainment,” including Apple Founder Steve Jobs, Pixar President Ed Catmull and George Lucas, founder of Lucasfilm.
“Jobs purchased Lucasfilm’s computer graphics division in 1986 and created a separate new company called ‘Pixar,'” the 2014 filing said. “With Jobs as its CEO Pixar agreed with Lucasfilm that (a) they would not cold call each other’s employees; (b) they would notify the other company when making an offer to an employee of the other company, if that employee applied for a job notwithstanding the agreement not to cold call; and (c) the company making such an offer would not increase its offer if the company currently employing the employee made a counteroffer.”
“The conspiracy deprived Plaintiff and other class members of millions of dollars which Defendants instead put to their bottom lines,” the filing continued. “It did so at the same time that the films produced by these workers achieved world renown and generated billions of dollars in revenues in the United States and abroad.”
The plaintiffs had previously reached similar settlement agreements with Blue Sky and Sony in July.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.