Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and three other tech companies finally reached a settlement in an anti-poaching case. The companies agreed to pay up a total of $324.5 million.

Apple Google AAPL GOOG

Anti-poaching lawsuit settlement reached

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) previously made an agreement not to poach or hire employees from each other. This led employees to complain about low pay. Federal Judge Lucy Koh turned it into a class action lawsuit late last year. The tech companies then tried to overturn the ruling through the appeals court, however the appeals court backed Koh.

The lawsuit was on behalf of 64,000 employees in the tech industry who claimed damages during the conspiracy spanning from 2005 to 2009. This lawsuit initially sought $3 billion in damages. Furthermore, because this was an antitrust case, that number could have tripled.

What’s next in the settlement

Koh still needs to okay the settlement before it is approved. Each individual class member is entitled to a few thousand dollars. The attorneys in the case are already looking into preempt the argument. The filing states there would be a larger payment than the initial payment claimed by the state attorney general. The filing also stated, “While the [California Department of Justice] had the ability to seek civil fines, the DOJ settled their investigation regarding the Defendants’ alleged misconduct without any monetary penalty.”

This trial may have caused some serious embarrassment for the tech giants. One such case involves an internal email from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s chairman Eric Schmidt to Apple’s Steve Jobs (who was still chief executive officer of the company then). The email was to let Jobs know Schmidt planned on firing a recruiter for poaching Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) employees. Jobs sent a reply email with a smiley face.

It was emails such as the one mentioned above that gave the employees a strong case against the tech companies. This settlement is in addition to another $20 million settlements from Inuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm on similar charges.