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Class action targets major studios over non-solicitation agreements

Serious allegations have been leveled in a class action lawsuit against a slew of major studios and digital animation companies. According to the suit, which was brought on behalf of a former effects artist at DreamWorks Animation, "some of the most recognizable names in the American entertainment and technology industries" conspired to establish "non-poaching" agreements that effectively deprived class members of millions in compensation.

The suit, which was filed in federal court in California, contends that employees were unaware of non-solicitation agreements between DreamWorks, Pixar, Walt Disney Co., Sony Pictures Animation, Lucasfilm and others. The suit further claims that intentional efforts were made on the part of top executives not to ever put the non-solicitation agreements in writing.

The defendants are accused of conspiring to suppress salaries and wages by secretly agreeing among themselves not to recruit from each other's talent pools.

This latest class action comes after two prior lawsuits targeting a number the current defendants. In an antitrust suit brought in 2010, the Department of Justice targeted Lucasfilm and Pixar, among others, for establishing non-solicitation agreements that prevented employees from getting higher-paying positions. That suit was settled when the companies agreed to stop making such agreements for a five-year period.

The other prior suit was a class action brought in 2011. The litigation in that case revealed emails that seemed to link DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Intuit to a network of non-solicitation agreements. You can read more about the outcomes of those cases here.

For more on antitrust and employment law, please visit our collective litigation overview.

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