Whoa! I got a check from the High-Tech Employee Antitrust class action lawsuit. Check it out! This is a lot more than the usual $14 I see from these class action cases. The exact amount is actually $1,340.32. I put $1,000 in the title of this article for the search engines. I think Google likes rounded numbers better than exact amounts…

$1000 windfall high tech antitrust litigation class action lawsuit

High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation

So what’s this lawsuit about? Basically, the management of the companies named in this lawsuit had a verbal agreement to avoid recruiting from each other. This agreement limits employee job mobility and repressed their wages. The Department of Justice filed a complaint against these companies alleging violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act in September, 2010. The civil class action lawsuit followed in May 2011 on behalf of over 64,000 employees of Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. In October 2013, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit agreed to pay $20 million in damages. This is where my $1,340 windfall came from.

In May 2014, Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe agreed to settle for $324.5 million. That will come out to about $4,000 for each of the 64,000 plaintiffs. However, Judge Lucy Koh expressed concern that the settlement may not be a good one for the plaintiffs. She rejected the settlement as insufficient on the basis of the evidence and exposure. The companies will now have to raise their settlement value or face a trial. The plaintiffs intend to ask the jury for $3 billion in compensation which could triple to $9 billion under antitrust law.

Wow, this is a huge lawsuit. If the plaintiffs win this case, I can expect a much bigger windfall check later. Of course, the lawyers are seeking 25% in attorneys’ fees. (Obviously, I’m in the wrong business…) Anyway, I’d still be very thankful if the jury rules for us. Such collusion hurts employees and contributes to a demoralizing working environments. The amount is just a drop in the bucket for these companies anyway. Apple has over $160 billion in cash. They can afford to send me a little check. ;)

10 smart ways to spend $1000 windfall

So this one is for all the tech workers out there. Hopefully, you are in a comfortable position financially and don’t really need to do the first 5 things listed here. But I know times have been hard for some of us. It can be tough to get a comparable technical job after getting laid off.

  1. Pay off high interest credit card debt – Everyone should pay off their credit card balance every month to avoid those high interest rates. If you carry a balance on your credit card, the $1,000 should go toward getting rid of that balance. Paying credit card interest every month is for suckers.
  2. Build an emergency fund – You should have 2 to 6 months of living expense in an easily accessible account. If your family has 2 income earners who work in secure jobs, then you can probably shoot for the low end. If you’re self employed and your income is unstable, then you probably should try to maintain a bigger emergency fund. A $1,000 windfall is perfect to shore up your emergency fund.
  3. 401k – The contribution limit for the 401k will increase from $17,500 to $18,000 next year. This $1,000 could go toward that. Saving in your 401k is a great way to defer tax. At least you should contribute enough to get the employer matching. We have been maxing out our 401k every year and it’s getting sizeable. Investing in your 401k is a great way to build wealth over the long term.
  4. Roth IRA – The Roth IRA is another great way to invest for the long term. If you don’t have a Roth IRA yet, then read this article on how to start investing in a Roth IRA. The $1,000 would be a great head start in the Roth IRA.
  5. Buy dividend stocks – The stock market has been pretty volatile lately, but dividend stocks are a good bet for long term investing. You can hold the stock in any market and collect the dividends. One thousand dollars can grow multiple folds over 20 years.

Okay, we’re done with the easy ones. If you’re like most tech workers, you are probably pretty comfortable financially and you have already taken care of #1 though #5. On the other hand, you’re probably stressed out and need to spend more quality time with the family. Here are some ideas that I’m considering.

  1. Fix your home – Home repair is one of the items that I always put off. Our HVAC has been broken for over 3 years. We are pretty comfortable without it so I just keep putting it off. I’m sure you have things like this on your list too. Spending the $1,000 to repair your home is a good investment. A new HVAC system would work flawlessly for many years to come and reduce the numbers of barbed comments from the less hardy souls in the household…
  2. Treat your wife to the spa – It’s been years since I treated Mrs. RB40 to the spa. She is too cheap to go on her own. I think we’ll take a day off and leave RB40 Jr. with his grandparents to do this. We really need to get away for a day or two. Life has been too busy for us lately.
  3. Date night – We live very close to Veritable Quandary (a great restaurant), but we haven’t been there for ages. Usually we go for ethnic food when we eat out for a change of pace and they are usually more affordable. I really need to take Mrs. RB40 out for a date night.
  4. Travel – $1,000 isn’t much toward an international trip, but it’s a good starting point. I also just signed up for a Chase card to get the 50,000 points sign up bonus. Hopefully, we can build up enough points for some flight tickets by next year or at least a significant discount. We haven’t traveled internationally for a few years so I think next year we’ll visit Thailand for a few weeks.
  5. Christmas gifts – Usually, we don’t buy (many) Christmas presents, but maybe we can splurge a bit this year. RB40 Jr. likes playing basketball so I think I need to get a basketball hoop for him. I also want to get the fire truck Lego set. Those two things will be a ton of fun for all of us, but they are not exactly cheap. (Amazon links in this paragraph.)

Hmmm… You might think these last five things are not the most financially savvy ways to spend money, but tech workers really need to build a good relationship with their family. They spend a ton of time at the office and personal relationship gets neglected sometime.

Okay, I think I need the bigger settlement. This $1,340.32 is going pretty quickly. A spa date at the Skamania Lodge will probably cost $200 for the two of us. Mrs. RB40 can go for a massage. I’ll probably just go soak in the hot spring. A dinner and drinks at VQ probably will be $80. Christmas gifts will be about $80. I’ll probably invest the rest in our dividend portfolio. We’ll deal with the Thailand trip when the time comes…

Anyway, do you have any suggestions for a windfall like this? What would you do with an extra $1,000?

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