Although the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against workers who are 40 and older, IBM may have been trying to get away with it for years. A new report by ProPublica details a workplace culture bent on replacing older workers. Some Californian might be among alleged 20,000 employees who have been pushed out of IBM through layoffs, firings and forced early retirement.
Falling behind its competitors, the company reportedly switched its focus in 2014. ProPublica’s estimate is that over half of the company’s domestic job eliminations in the last five years have been older workers. The company allegedly set a goal to eliminate more senior employees and bring in newer hires. One way this was accomplished was by forcing older employees to choose between leaving the company or relocating. Another was by letting older workers go, ostensibly because their skills were outdated, and then rehiring them with less pay and fewer benefits as contractors.
IBM also dropped its policy of requiring employees to agree they would not sue for age discrimination as a condition for severance. However, it replaced this with a policy requiring private arbitration for age discrimination claims. This is a process that usually favors employers.
Workplace discrimination on the basis of age, race, religion, sex or for other reasons may take other forms besides being forced out of a workplace. It could include actions such as disparaging remarks or denying a promotion. Employees who believe they are being harassed or discriminated against at work might want to talk to a lawyer about whether the actions are illegal and what steps to take.