Over the past several years, the International Business Machines Corp (IBM), has tried to catch up to today's "cloud computing and mobile tech revolutions" by laying off thousands of employees throughout the U.S. and Canada. The mass layoffs were supposed to help cut costs and, according to them, reshape the skill set of the company. In May 2018, however, ProPublica published an exhaustive and damning account of how age discrimination played a distinct role in IBM's firings.
The company is now being sued for their discrimination by three former employees who believe they were fired without just cause.
The three employees are represented by Shannon Liss-Riordan, a partner at Lichten & Liss-Riordan in Boston, who has made a name for herself by taking on big tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Uber on behalf of "left behind" employees. She claims IBM discriminated against her clients due to their age.
@USATODAY Such a stupid move by IBM— mary (@mary)1537288019.0
Part of the suit, which draws much of its contents from the ProPublica article, reads:
Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce.
After the ProPublica exposé revealed that IBM fired more than 20,000 employees age 40 and older over the last six years, "the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has gathered together all complaints regarding the company's hiring practices, and focused them into a single concerted investigation, which is ongoing."
@CBSNews Ageism is Real, and it’s Rampant.— Chantie Khan (@Chantie Khan)1537242659.0
“If our skills were obsolete they would not have had us train our replacements,” says one former IBM employee. https://t.co/qfTuT8yHm9— IEEE Spectrum (@IEEE Spectrum)1537290310.0
IBM, doing what any company would do, claims they have not discriminated against any employees due to their age.
Ed Barbini, a spokesman for IBM, issued this statement in an email to Bloomberg:
Changes in our workforce are about skills, not age. In fact, since 2010 there is no difference in the age of our U.S. workforce, but the skills profile of our employees has changed dramatically. That is why we have been and will continue investing heavily in employee skills and retraining -- to make all of us successful in this new era of technology.
Twitter is pretty skeptical, however:
@CBSNews B.S. it's about not paying for health insurance for older employees and retirement.— Big Tweety Pie (@Big Tweety Pie)1537242351.0
@CBSNews They dismissed more than 20,000 workers older than 40 in the last five years. It's obvious age discriminat… https://t.co/xE1k1aJFgQ— Pamela Barnes 🦕 (@Pamela Barnes 🦕)1537240996.0
@CBSNews Sure it is we believe you let me guess a certain age group does not have the same set of skills a younger… https://t.co/JILF9hlgGY— Luna Kat (@Luna Kat)1537241496.0
@tictoc @echasan When being 41 is #OverTheHill 😢#TechLife #IBM @IBM— SteveBrant (@SteveBrant)1537340693.0
@CBSNews And how do you spell “settled out of court”?— John Raspen (@John Raspen)1537241102.0
@CBSNews Newsflash: ALL the big companies do this & they make the departing employees sign carefully crafted legal… https://t.co/wfMs4M0pB0— Jem Rummy (@Jem Rummy)1537241244.0
@CBSNews I bet they took a spreadsheet, sorted by salary and fired everyone at the top so they can replace them with cheap college hires. 🤣— jacktorrance182 (@jacktorrance182)1537240942.0
A judge must first allow the lawsuit to proceed. If the case reaches the courts, however, it could spell disaster for IBM — to the tune of several hundred million dollars plus legal expenses. It seems IBM's cost-cutting measures aren't going to save them as much money as they thought.
@KeithBarrett https://t.co/BFBrZTvPI3— Darrell Prichard (@Darrell Prichard)1537209909.0