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Former IBM workers accuse company of age discrimination

Older workers in California might recognize some of the tactics that IBM has allegedly used to shift people over age 40 off its payroll. An investigation by ProPublica and Mother Jones discovered that an estimated 60 percent of the U.S. workers cut by IBM in the previous five years were over 40.

Statements from more than 1,000 former IBM employees revealed an array of methods used by the company to force people out. In addition to outright layoffs, the company allegedly fired some people, sidelined them or forced them to retire. An alteration to the company's longstanding telecommuting policy ended the ability of people to telecommute. They either had to move to distant work locations or lose their jobs.

Internal company documents provided evidence beyond the anecdotes of former employees. As a new strategic focus on big data analytics and cloud services emerged in 2014, the company plotted a shift to a younger workforce. Presentations meant for senior executives referred to increasing the percentage of workers called "early professional hires."

Other documents directed IBM managers to avoid rehiring older workers who were dismissed because of their outdated skills. Despite the supposedly stale skills of these laid-off individuals, bringing them back as contractors at lower pay appeared to be acceptable.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes discrimination against people because of their age illegal, but a person could face barriers when trying to prove a claim. The representation of an attorney may aid someone confronted with job loss because of age. An attorney might investigate the hiring and firing practices of the company. This documentation along with specific incidents of age-related discrimination targeted at the person may produce evidence for filing a lawsuit. Damages pursued by such a legal action might include lost back pay.

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