- Four former IBM employees have sued IBM, hiring a class business law firm famous for winning big cases.
- They claim that IBM has signed a "massive scheme to cover discriminatory dismissal of over 20,000 older workers in knowing information disclosure violations."
- IBM says it's not worried about the trial.
- But the employee's lawyer tells Business Insider that this package is different because it is aimed at IBM's decision not to disclose the age of the employees it waives and arbitration agreements that require employees to waive their right to to sue collectively.
Four former IBM employees have sued IBM and have hired a law firm that is famous for winning big cases.
They claim that IBM has engaged in a "massive scheme to cover discriminatory dismissal of over 20,000 older workers by knowing the disclosure requirements."
IBM says it is not concerned about the lawsuit. The applicant's theories have been rejected by courts, including the US Supreme Court. We are convinced that our arbitration clauses are lawful and appropriate, "says an IBM Business Insider spokesman.
The fact that IBM has laid down thousands of workers for years without revealing the size of its redundancies while hiring thousands of others has been well documented and claims that many of the people who get pink Tie, has been the older workers, has also been the source of several studies.
Bloomberg wrote about it in 201
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By signing an arbitration agreement, every employee who believes that he or she was discriminated against by age should then have the cost of suing IBM for legal discovery and statistical analysis of its redundancies.
Business Insider wrote about the situation in 2015 and 2016, when the redundant employees told Business Insider that IBM had reduced the severance pay for long-term staff for one month max. And Pro Publica entered into allegations of age discrimination in connection with redundancies last year.
A lawyer representing former employees, Joe Sellers of law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, tells Business Insider that IBM's statement is a bit of red herring. Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll is a well-known law firm with law firms that have won hundreds of millions of dollars for example. Apple, Caterpillar, Citigroup, Mercedes Benz, BP, Bristol-Myers Squibb and many others.
Sellers say this trial is not trying to get the right to exclude arbitration agreements. He says his clients honor the deal and have also filed with arbitrators.
This trial does not even challenge the arbitration agreements. It challenges the part where employees waived their right to sue collectively and argued that IBM did not first give them information about the ages that were laid off as he says are statutory.
"The only question presented to the court is whether enforcement is to be abolished [to sue collectively]," he said.
And that means that this trial is different from the one filed by IBM employees in the fall. The age discrimination trial was filed by people who did not sign a waiver that prevented them from collectively suing in exchange for dismissal, he said.
Sellers say that his clients are the ones who subscribed to these exceptions. He tries to represent an estimated 20,000 people who also did. He believes his case will allow these IBM workers to sue the company in court and not be responsible for returning their departure controls.
"Our opinion is that the exceptions that people have signed – some people only have one month's payment, others have more than a month's payment – cannot be enforced. So individuals can keep what they have been paid and join it trial, "he says.
Ultimately, the case between the case filed in arbitration and the one filed in court seeks compensation for what the applicants say was age discrimination.
"I did my job very well and got glowing comments on my yearly evaluations for 33 years," one of the applicants, Cheryl Witmer, said in the law firm's press release. Witmer says she was dismissed in 2016 at the age of 57. "Suddenly in my 34th year, I was unfairly downgraded in my annual evaluation. Nothing about my work changed, which changed IBM's decision to replace me with a much younger worker."
Sellers tells Business Insider that he ultimately wants to stop IBM from "relying on stereotypes about older workers to force people out of work. There were undoubtedly some older people who might be better suited to others But there are many people in the workforce who are older, with a lot of technical expertise at a company that appreciates technical expertise that should have been evaluated on their benefits. "