IBM Under Fire for Alleged Age Discrimination

Age discrimination has long been a problem for New Yorkers who work at technology-based companies, where there is often a misguided belief that “younger is always better.” Regardless of what these tech executives think, it is against the law to fire (or refuse to hire) someone because they are over the age of 40. This applies not just to overt acts, but also policies designed to quietly target older employees for termination.

Ex-IBM Executive Claims Company Told Her Not to Disclose Names, Ages of Laid-Off Older Workers to Labor Department

One of the New York's biggest and best-known tech employers, IBM, is presently facing a class action filed by a group of former employees who claim they were laid off as part of a deliberate policy of getting rid of “gray hairs” and “old heads.” The nonprofit news organization ProPublica first reported on IBM's age discrimination problems in a March 2018 report, which pointed to a 2006 internal paper that claimed younger workers “are generally much more innovative and receptive to technology” than aging “baby boomers.” ProPublica also found IBM presentations that said the company had to “become one by the Millennial mindset” by focusing on hiring employees born after 1980.

More recently, ProPublica reported that a former IBM executive was ordered not to comply with a demand from the U.S. Department of Labor to release data related to the company's layoff policies. The former executive (affiant) filed an affidavit in Manhattan federal court on January 18 as part of the ongoing class action. The affiant said she was a 64-year-old vice president laid off two years earlier after working for the company for nearly 30 years.

In the two years prior to her own firing, the affiant said IBM implemented policies that required her to layoff approximately 60% of the employees in her group. All of the laid-off employees were over the age of 50. Some of the laid-off employees then filed for financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Trade Assistance Act (TAA). The Department asked the affiant to fill out a form listing all of the individuals who had been laid-off within the past three years and their ages. The affiant alleged IBM management ordered her to “delete all but one name” from the list before submitting it to the Department.

The affiant said she “raised my concerns that IBM was engaging in unlawful age discrimination” to her superiors. As a result, the affiant said “my treatment by IBM began to deteriorate.” The affiant said she soon received “my first negative performance evaluation of my career, even though I had exceeded my targets.” The company also conducted two audits of the affiants work, which officially led to her termination; the affiant maintained this was “pretextual” and that she was really fired “in retaliation for raising my concerns over IBM's discrimination.”

In statements to ProPublica, IBM maintained it does not engage in age discrimination and the affiant was fired for reasons “wholly unrelated to her allegations.”

Speak with a New York Age Discrimination Lawyer Today

Regardless of how the IBM litigation turns out, age discrimination remains a serious problem for many New York workers. If you have reason to believe you were laid off due to age, and you are at least 40 years old, than you need to speak with a New York employment attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar if you need assistance right away.