Class Action Lawsuit Charges IBM With Age Discrimination

Mounting anecdotal evidence that IBM may have committed age discrimination boils over into suit

2 min read
IBM logo on a building
Photo: Nick Moore/Alamy

In March, a ProPublica and Mother Jones report put the spotlight on years of reports by laid-off IBM employees that they had been targeted due to their age. In May, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began a nationwide investigation into age discrimination complaints against the company. Also in May, Jonathan Langley, an Austin-based IBM employee, filed a lawsuit charging age discrimination in his firing.

And now, a lawyer—who famously sued Uber for allegedly misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors—has picked up the ball and is expected to run hard with it.

Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan today filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of three former IBM employees in their 50s and 60s, charging that when IBM fired them earlier this year, the company discriminated against them based on age.

More former employees are likely to join the class of plaintiffs; we at Spectrumfor years have heard anecdotal reports from individuals that believe they were targeted for layoffs because of their age.

In an emailed statement, IBM indicated that any workforce changes were “about skills, not age. In fact, since 2010 there is no difference in the age of our U.S. workforce, but the skills profile has changed dramatically.”

This statement is hard to verify, because several years ago IBM stopped including any data about its U.S. workforce in its annual report—it no longer even reports the size of the workforce, much less the average age or skills profile.

Comments from former employees to the Facebook group Watching IBM were generally supportive of the class action suit. Said one commenter, “Many hundreds of people that I know, that were laid off in the March action, were part of the so-called strategic imperatives. Everyone in my group was over 50 and most of the people that I know personally were all over 45.”

Said another, reacting to the official IBM statement, “If our skills were obsolete, they would not have had us train our replacements in other countries before throwing us under the bus. They would have abandoned our obsolete practices.”

The Conversation (0)

Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Vertical
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}