Another lawsuit, this one involving a group of employees, has been filed against International Business Machines, a technology company at one time known as “Big Blue” on the stock market. There have been allegations swirling around the Company since some internet news outlets determined that, at least since 2010, IBM had let about 20,000 employees over the age of 40 go. These cuts represented about half of the company’s workforce reduction. The plan, say the accusers, was to open some empty desks at the company for younger workers.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is independently investigating IBM and the company’s hiring and firing practices. For its part, IBM denied the allegations, saying the reality is that the issue is about job skills. The company has committed to re-training and developing the job skills of all of its employees. The company also noted that the average age of its employees has not changed over the last eight years. It is interesting to note, however, that over the last eight years, workers over 55 constituted a growing share of the American labor force.
In any event, weeding out employees who are aging is a form of unlawful employment discrimination. In other words, no company is allowed to have a system of laying people off that has the effect of targeting employees over 40. Even if the layoff seems to be based on generally applicable criteria, like job skills, the criteria also has to be objective and effective in spreading out the fallout of the layoff among all age groups.
An employee who feels that they have been the victim of an illegal layoff may have options available to them and can speak to an employment law attorney about those options.