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Ex-IBM Employees' Lawsuit Alleges Age Discrimination

IBM.
IBM. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

Lawyers for four IBM employees who were laid off have filed a lawsuit alleging that the company failed to comply with federal laws that require companies to disclose the ages of people over the age of 40 who are fired.

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in New York City, further alleging that IBM has preventing workers from teaming up to challenge their firings. IBM officials have denied any wrongdoing.

The tech giant - headquartered in Armonk  - failed to provide laid-off workers with age-specific demographic information about layoffs, the complaint alleges. IBM also allegedly made the laid-off employees sign waivers relinquishing their rights to collectively launch an age discrimination lawsuit against the company.

Because the laid-off employees were not provided with said demographic information, their lawyers have argued that the waivers are invalid. This is the second broad legal action brought against IBM in two years, including a widespread age discrimination suit last year. If IBM loses the latest lawsuit, it will open them up to thousands of other former employees who can band together and pursue legal claims.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that workers over 40 who are being laid off be told the job positions and the ages of the position holders who are being laid off with them so they can decide whether to pursue an age-discrimination case or to waive the right to do so.

IBM ceased providing this information to employees in 2014 when it rewrote its severance agreement, according to reports. Under the previous agreement, departing employees could not receive severance unless they agreed to waive their right to pursue legal action. Under the new agreement, employees were required to sign to receive severance did allow them to file claims of discrimination, but only in individual hearings before an arbitrator.

ProPublica reported in March last year that IBM had laid off approximately 20,000 U.S. workers over the age of 40 in the past five years. In some instances, it used money saved from the departures to hire young replacements to, in the words of one internal company document, “correct seniority mix.”

An IBM spokesman said the company had no comment on the latest lawsuit. This is a developing story. Check Daily Voice for updates.

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