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IBM Ageism Scandal

May 16th, 2018

Philadelphia age discrimination lawyers advocate for victims of discrimination in the workplace.Over the past several years, 60 percent of employees let go by tech giant, IBM, were over the age of 40. That is approximately 20,000 employees. Older, experienced workers were replaced by younger workers not commanding such high salaries, while other jobs were shifted abroad. There are laws against what IBM did, but the company apparently flouted them.

The IBM Scheme

IBM at its peak was the equivalent of Google or Facebook today, but those newer tech companies still have a relatively young workforce. The company eliminated older workers by using layoff techniques designed to discriminate against the aged. This included:

  • Changing job cuts into retirements, along with pressuring employees to resign and terminating others. These actions reduced the number of employees officially laid off, so regulations affecting public disclosure were not in effect.
  • Telling laid-off employees they could apply for other positions within IBM, while simultaneously telling managers not to hire these applicants.
  • Requiring older workers to train their replacements.
  • Informing older workers that their skills were not current, but then hiring them back as independent contractors performing the same job at a lower rate with few, if any, benefits.
  • Getting rid of older workers who had top performance records, and then replacing them with younger workers who were paid much less.
  • Older workers had to sign agreements stating they would not pursue court action or join class-action lawsuits. Only private arbitration, which greatly favors the employer, was an option.

Successor Generations More Receptive to Technology

Baby boomers who began working at IBM early in their careers had every expectation of retiring from the company. For generations, IBM encouraged employees to consider their employment virtually lifetime. However, IBM was falling behind its tech rivals, and consulting companies hired to come up with solutions laid the blame on the number of older employees, stating that successor generations were more receptive to technology.

Changes in Layoff Lists

Up until 2014, IBM gave two lists to laid-off employees. The first list included the ages and positions of the laid-off in a particular unit, while omitting the names. The second list showed the ages and positions of those who were not let go. That disclosure is required under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. After 2014, IBM stopped providing such lists, even though the legal requirement still existed. It did so by deleting the term, age, from its layoff documents that required employees receiving severance to waive bias claims.

IBM’s argument is that employees are no longer waiving possible age bias claims. However, the post-2014 documents state that employees could not take complaints to court but must go through arbitration, and they had to pursue any claims by themselves, not with other workers. Some older workers dismissed by IBM have gone to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file complaints. In response to the EEOC inquiries, IBM stated they were not using age when considering layoffs because some of the managers making the layoff decisions were over the age of 40.

Philadelphia Age Discrimination Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Advocate for Victims of Discrimination in the Workplace

If you have been the victim of age discrimination, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia age discrimination lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Call our office today at 215-569-1999 for a free initial consultation or contact us online. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas.

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