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Your Rights – Age Discrimination

According to multiple breaking news sources, IBM is now “facing allegations of rampant age discrimination.”

Age discrimination in technology is rampant and unchecked.  Unfortunately, few affected individuals take action within the required time frame.  When they do, as was the case with this $1.5m verdict against IBM for age discrimination, it can be significant.

A recent investigative report by ProPublica, an independent nonprofit newsroom, finds that IBM almost certainly targeted individuals over 40 for layoffs, Resource Actions (RA’s), Reduction in Force (RIF’s), or firings.

These allegations may include employees in Austin, Texas, Dallas, Houston, and other parts of Texas in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who were top performers.

ProPublica claims IBM stacked the deck against older workers by also allegedly encouraging worker retirements and resignations to try to avoid liability for an RA.

One reason IBM may not have faced legal scrutiny for age discrimination so far is that it allegedly did not inform older workers of their rights as required by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Most disturbingly, IBM apparently replaced older US workers with younger workers in foreign countries: “ProPublica reviewed documents that show that a substantial share of recent IBM layoffs have involved what the company calls “lift and shift,“ lifting the work of specific U.S. employees and shifting it to specific workers in countries such as India and Brazil. For example, a document . . .  for 2015 lists nearly a thousand people as layoff candidates, with the jobs of almost half coded for lift and shift.”  According to the report, “many of the workers reportedly had to train their own replacements.”

IBM’s response to this breaking story so far is to issue a statement saying that they are “proud of our company.”

You have a right not to be laid off of fired because of your age.  Affected individuals may include anyone over 40 who was subject to an RA from June 2017 until today, including employees in any employer subject to practices such as “lift and shift” where they trained their younger replacements.  Critically, affected individuals may include those who signed a severance package or accepted retirement if, as apparently was the case for some of IBM’s RA, the severance did not include a waiver of federal age claims .

Laid off workers must take immediate action to protect their rights, or those rights may be waived.  Age discrimination claims under federal law have strict timelines.  Affected employees must file claims with the EEOC within 300 days of a layoff-off or RA, a deadline that may be fast-approaching for those who were laid off around the summer of 2017.  If you or a friend, colleague, or loved one was affected by age discrimination in technology employment, reach out and speak to competent counsel as soon as possible to determine the options, or risk waiving those claims forever.