IBM Facing New Age Discrimination Lawsuit

By George Khoury, Esq. on April 03, 2019 | Last updated on April 04, 2019

In a recently filed age discrimination lawsuit against IBM, new facts are coming to light about the employee culling that occurred within the company starting in 2014.

The complaint alleges that over the last six years, IBM has terminated over 20,000 employees over the age of 40, and focused its efforts to hire younger workers, or as the company called them, "early professionals." Last year, IBM came under fire for similar claims and was the subject of an exposé that seems to have succeeding in making the computing giant rethink its employment policies.

Severe Severance

The case, filed by a group of 55+ aged former employees, alleges that IBM put into place a new "aggressive performance management" plan that was designed to oust senior, longtime employees, so that those workers could be replaced with younger workers.

Curiously, in 2016, it is alleged that younger workers were specifically exempted from layoffs while older workers were not. Additionally, when these older workers were ousted, each was allegedly asked to sign a release of claims (and agree to submit all claims to binding arbitration) in order to receive severance. Employees were specifically asked to sign age discrimination collective action waivers, that even prohibited taking collective action in arbitration.

History of Age Discrimination

Interestingly, the lawsuit takes aim at the company's historical problems with age discrimination, including a 2006 internal memo where workers were referred to as "gray hairs" and "old heads." That same memo called out baby boomers for being less receptive to new technology than the younger generation of workers.

The recently filed case seeks a court declaration invalidating the collective action waiver to allow the terminated IBM employees to bring a collective arbitration action.

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