back to article IBM ordered to pay £22k to whistleblower and told by judges: Teach your managers what discrimination means

IBM has been ordered to pay £22,000 in compensation and two years' salary to a Brit staffer who blew the whistle on unlawful working practices within the company – only for infuriated managers to lash out at her. Reading Employment Tribunal awarded Dawn Davidsen compensation and ordered that she be reinstated in her job after …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    targeted by four managers within IBM

    IBM's a very large company, you know, so it's just four random, "rogue" managers in a crowd of literally thousands of IBM managers that you interact with every single day, absolutely nothing to do with company and corporate values!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Mark 78

      Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

      If that was the case wouldn't IBM have sorted this out before it went to a tribunal and have disciplined the managers rather than going to the tribunal and backing them up?

      1. John Savard

        Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

        Maybe the managers lied to their superiors. After all, people get made managers for a reason, and it certainly is possible that a subordinate might lie about her managers in an attempt to get an undeserved promotion. So naturally the default is to take the manager's word over the subordinates.

        That doesn't mean that IBM isn't at fault for not still investigating, just in case, and harshly disciplining any mangers who would think to behave in this manner.

      2. Electric Panda

        Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

        IBM have now been so badly embarrassed by this that surely these managers will now suffer (if there)?

        You'd hope so.

    3. a_yank_lurker

      Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

      There are many complaints of various forms of discrimination, ripping off sales commissions, etc. by the Itsy Bitsy Morons manglement. This would lead one to suspect there are more fundamental internal problems. I doubt this is an isolated incident.

    4. Jonathon Green

      Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

      This is sarcasm, right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: targeted by four managers within IBM


        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

          Thank You Itsy Bitsy Morons is my new go to acronym for IBM.

          Icon - Have a Friday pint on me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

            Don't forget:

            Idiots Become Managers

    5. Xibm

      Re: targeted by four managers within IBM

      Nope... Shit gets pushed down hill in IBM.

      Nobody questions the morality or the logic of decision from on high. They just pass it on.

      The spreadsheet says we have to do X, so we do X until we break something and the spreadsheet now says we do Y. So we do Y. Logic gets ignored, people get thrown under the bus.

      In this case, I can completely believe it. A PIP is supposed to shame you into leaving. Always had been used that way.

      Don't get me wrong, there are people who try to deflect that down hill flow... But very few of them care enough to put themselves on the line.

  2. Noonoot

    Harassment and mobbing on the job

    "Rather than investigate properly, IBM decided to close ranks and try to force Davidsen out of her job by giving her falsely negative annual reviews and "impossible" targets to meet, the tribunal found."

    Just this alone should be enough to demote the managers involved, or force them out of their job for inappropriate behaviour.

    The thing that disgusts me the most is that the managers are women. I trust Claire Bryant and Sandra Oliveira are now looking for other employment elsewhere as toilet cleaners (no offence to cleaners of any kind btw).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Harassment and mobbing on the job

      Why would IBM punish them for doing exactly what the senior management wanted? Don't you think there was an unrecorded phone call, or maybe a few words over a coffee, asking the line managers to get rid of this pesky woman ASAP?

      Sad to see a great company sink so despicably. Yet their shares are only down by 8% on the year.

      1. Xibm

        Re: Harassment and mobbing on the job

        Absolutely this.

    2. macjules

      Re: Harassment and mobbing on the job

      No, in IBM they would be reprimanded and possibly marked for redundancy in the next cull. The person who takes responsibility is the director who effectively approved their actions.

    3. eamonn_gaffey

      Re: Harassment and mobbing on the job

      ..maybe data scrubbers :-).

      You would expect at least some empathy, but unfortunately, being female does not exclude such crass, odious and illegal behaviour. These "managers" were motivated by an internal culture that brooks no dissent. What an awful place to work.

      All power to Ms Davidsen for having the courage to take them, and the company hierarchy on - very brave.

  3. trevorde Silver badge

    And what happened to the managers?

    Probably a promotion and fat bonus for showing so much initiative. Maybe a private reprimand for getting caught. It is the IBM way.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. chivo243 Silver badge


    I B Moving on... But if you swim with the sharks, you may be bitten, and bleed a bit... calling all sharks!

  5. spireite Silver badge

    So many cases, you have to wonder if genuinely good managers in the IBM are the rogues, and the dodgy ones are the norm.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      That is certainly my personal experience in most companies I've worked for. The good managers are the exception. IT is a sad consequence of managers always having to be paid more than their staff. If you want that pay rise, you have to stop doing what you are good at, and become a manager.

      Instead why not pay people well for doing their job well, and not worry about your subordinates getting more money than you for a job you could not do as well as they do? Oh, but that would upset the feudal hierarchy that is capitalism's goal.

      I'll get my coat - mine's the one with the Red Star on the lapel.

      1. Frank Thynne

        Promotion is not always a suitable reward

        I agree with Eclectic Man. Money, respect and status rewards for good work and value are better than inappropriate "promotion" into management. Sadly, inappropriate promotion is a common policy in the UK. People are moved from jobs they do well into jobs they do badly.

        This is bad for the people and bad for the enterprise, too. It's one of the causes of poor performance by UK business. Other countries -- yes even the USA -- have more enlightened policies.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £22K? Is that all?

    That's so absurdly low as to not even need a managers approval for petty cash. Try turning that K to a B to make IBM feel it as an actual form of _punishment_ rather than an amusing smack on a knuckle with a foam cricket bat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £22K? Is that all?

      the report states:

      £20k as compensation

      the difference between what she received since Feb 2018 to six weeks after the court's decision from IBM and what she actually should have received if she had been employed

      10% of both these awards as an uplift

      and she gets her job back and her slate is wiped clean.

      Who would want to stay working there after what they did?

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: £22K? Is that all?

        Yeah, her slate will never be wiped clean. This will follow her at IBM for the term of her employment.

        Call me cynical, but if her upper management decided to close ranks against her, there's going to be a stain on her career that can't be washed off.

        $22k is peanuts for IBM. The cost of doing business. I'll bet she's gone within 3 years, either resigned or due to some completely unavoidable office closure that's totally above board.

        Call me cynical, but companies are like elephants, they never forget, and they hold a grudge against those who bring them negative publicity

        1. PghMike

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          If she's smart, she'll leave on her own soon. There are better companies to work for than IBM, and I'd bet that the local IBMers will be vengeful AF.

          1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

            Re: £22K? Is that all?

            The problem there is that IBM can simply refuse to give her a reference... they can't give her a bad one... as that would result in another lawsuit against them.

            But refusing to give a reference sends a very bad message to the potential new employer... and this is now a matter of public record... and that could also affect future employment as there a lot of companies who don;t want to hire people who will stand their ground, do what's right and isn't afraid to go all the way and take a company to task for shitty behaviour.

            I suspect in a year or two she'll be offered some kind of redundancy with a very healthy package to quietly slip out the back door.

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: £22K? Is that all?

              Standard corporate reference: "We can confirm that individual worked for us until the of ..ber."

              It's corporate policy these days.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          "Yeah, her slate will never be wiped clean. This will follow her at IBM for the term of her employment."

          By court order the judgement is added to her file. Any future manager will have to take account of it because any future tribunal will. And better not lose it from the file because a tribunal will take a dim view of that.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: £22K? Is that all?

            "And better not lose it from the file because a tribunal will take a dim view of that."

            As would the Information Commissioner: principle 7 of the DPA (and also, I believe carried into the GDPR) requires data processors to take precautions to avoid accidental or unlawful deletion of personal information.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          " I'll bet she's gone within 3 years, either resigned or due to some completely unavoidable office closure that's totally above board."

          The Court's ruling has to be made part of her reinstatement in included in her personal file which could mean that she will not be having any further problems with HR or other management. Any manager thinking that this lady is going to bow to intimidation is going to wind up selling pencils at a tube station. Any further actions against her will be seen as retaliation by any subsequent judge.

          If anybody is transferred to a new posting due to a business unit closure, she'll be at the top of the list or could do them again.

        4. mistersaxon

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          But now, who is going to be believed if, for example, a story gets posted to El Reg? The proven truth-teller or the corporate liars? They have to move VERY carefully around someone who is actually protected by employment law (assuming she is halfway competent at her job).

    2. James Anderson

      Re: £22K? Is that all?

      The sad fact is anyone taking their employer to an employment tribunal will never get a decent job again.

      So 22K for a few months missed work is not adequate compensation for a career ending move.

      Her only option now is to sit at an empty desk with nothing to do and collect a salary from IBM who desperately want to get rid of her but dare not sack her.

      1. John Savard

        Re: £22K? Is that all?

        In that case (someone taking their employer to an employment tribunal won't get a decent job with anyone else either), the British government should just confiscate the assets of all the companies at which she will never get a decent job, not just IBM. After Britain becomes socialist in this manner, perhaps businesses in other countries will realize they have to behave better, or else.

        Somehow, it needs to be very firmly impressed on the minds of all employers that their duty is to meekly submit to the orders of the legislature, the courts, and employment tribunals, and not attempt any sort of resistance (other than using a lawyer to defend themselves against false, groundless, and malicious accusations with the truth, but never to obfuscate the truth with false allegations, which would result also in the immediate disbarment of any lawyer who assisted in that) against them.

        1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          Or... and I know this may be a stretch for you... they could just.. ya know... follow the laws... and not discriminate to begin with... and then... shocker... not retaliate when their discrimination is brought to their attention.

          I know right... how dare this silly woman think she has rights... how dare she take the company to task for their deceitful, illegal actions....Shame on here... shame indeed.

          Oh if only there was a sarcasm icon I could use... D'oh it is.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: £22K? Is that all?

            Senior management tend to have a more risk based approach to decisions than engineers. The engineer (software, civil, electrical, mechanical etc.) wants to make something that actually works. Failure is usually obvious (smoke and flames rising from the equipment, people screaming and running away, that sort of thing). However for management, particularly senior management, they ask themselves, what is the cost of doing this properly, compared to the cost of doing it well-enough that no-one notices we've cut corners plus the probability that it will fail multiplied by the cost of failure, while I am likely to be held liable? What is the cost of not being able to do this at all?

            The first Shuttle disaster was because the USA did not want to be seen to be unable to launch rockets at sub-zero temperatures due to the political decision to make the solid fuel boosters in three parts in states which needed the jobs, rather than in one part in a state near the launchpad. Three parts required seals, which required checking. According to the rules the booster segments had to be circular, which was tested by checking that three diameters were equal after retrieval from the ocean after splashdown. Feynman writes about this failure quite eloquently in his memoirs. The booster blew up and the astronauts died because of political pressure to launch when the science and engineers said "no".

            The £22k IBM has been fined is, to IBM less than a peanut, but now the precedent has been set, they will have to check that other indirect discrimination is rooted out, or at least not ignored, the next fine will be a lot bigger.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: £22K? Is that all?

        "Her only option now is to sit at an empty desk with nothing to do and collect a salary from IBM who desperately want to get rid of her but dare not sack her."

        In Japan, that's called being given a "Window seat". I'm not sure that it would be as big of a deal as it once was. Bring a laptop with your own mobile hot spot and take online college courses or certificate programs. In a few years when you have earned your advanced degree, you bail and apply elsewhere. You may not get a glowing review, but they may still have to tell another employer that you left voluntarily and have X many years at the company in <these> positions. Since you wouldn't be doing any work, it should be easy to get your holiday schedules approved. Your office/desk may be in the sub-basement, but that's a great place to do your school work as long as you can get mobile reception.

        If you want a good reference from a company that you left in a less than amicable way, give the name of a friend you have at the company. This works the best if they are a manager or have been promoted to a manager position after you have left. The person calling for the reference won't have any clue that they were never your supervisor. All they know is they dialed the published company number and either punched in an extension or reception patched them through to the person you designated. You could use a friend that isn't a manager, but if that's found out, you may be sunk.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          I already had my own laptop & phone hotspot at one or two places of employment.

          I wasn't looking for alternative work, but found it necessary to keep my own private stuff to hand without going via company e-mails as a proxy or reading legal docs on a phone.

          When it came to redundancy....I basically concentrated on that laptop for future employment offers & let the incumbents taking our roles, take on the new workload as more & more of the outgoing team left to pastures new & I was fully entitled to concentrate on seeking alternative work.

        2. Berny Stapleton

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          Having used old work colleagues as references before (It was accepted) because of changes in environment; a simple "My manager left the organisation shortly after I left, and I've no idea where he is now" works quote well.

          1. jelabarre59

            Re: £22K? Is that all?

            Having used old work colleagues as references before (It was accepted) because of changes in environment; a simple "My manager left the organisation shortly after I left, and I've no idea where he is now" works quote well.

            I've worked for enough companies that no longer exist, have been bought out with complete change in management, etc that getting contact info for references is pretty much impossible. And with the churn at IBM, and managers from there would be near impossible as well (I wouldn't even know which ones are still at IBM anyway).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: £22K? Is that all?

            Or you can say that you don't want the hierarchy to know that you're think of leaving, when you give a referee outside the hierarchy.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's not true!

        I took an employer to an employment tribunal, and have had much better jobs since.

        But the solicitor who handled my case did say not to make a habit of it as that would look bad for future possibly employers.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: £22K? Is that all?

      I'm going down the road less traveled on this one. Maybe, just maybe this woman is a total Karen? We feel bad for her because she got screwed by BigCorp, that is expected. Her work may have been impeccable, but she may be a total nutter. Maybe she's looking forward to returning to make an even bigger show? I've met a few who thrive on the drama!

      I would never find myself working for one of those BigCorps, but in her situation, I would resign quietly now and never look back.

      1. My-Handle Silver badge

        Re: £22K? Is that all?

        Maybe, just maybe...

        Or maybe just maybe not. Why speculate on irrelevant conditions that you have no means of verifying? If her manner was annoying or fractious to the point that it interfered with her work or her team's work, that might actually be something to raise a disciplinary issue about, but that's not what we're seeing here.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          "Why speculate on irrelevant conditions that you have no means of verifying?"

          Because that seems to be the topic of this entire comments section?

          Or were all these anti-IBM commentards actually there, and so they have first-hand knowledge of the situation?

          (Note: I am NOT pro-IBM, far from it ... Just calling a spade a spade (which will probably get me hung, drawn and quartered these days ... ))

      2. Tilda Rice

        Re: £22K? Is that all?

        Yer I'm with you Chivo. This is like those police videos where you only see the perp being bashed, and not the prelude. The mob with their pitchforks love to just go "yeah, yeah" stick it to the man!

        The managers might well have made a cods up of handling her exit, but it might be she actually was a total pain / under performer.

        But don't let the pursuit of facts get in the way of IBM and management bashing, carry on.

      3. Teiwaz

        Re: £22K? Is that all?

        I'm going down the road less travelled on this one. Maybe, just maybe this woman is a total Karen?

        Perhaps, but this is IBM we're talking about.

        Tantamount to seeing the same individual in the dock in a domestic abuse case, repeatedly.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: £22K? Is that all?

          Contrary to popular belief, one bad apple don't spoil the bunch, girl. (Works for the cops, too, all you Jackson 5 fans ... ).

      4. AdamWill

        Re: £22K? Is that all?

        That would certainly explain the managers who testified to a court that the PIP was perfectly reasonable, but were caught in chat logs saying exactly the opposite.

        Oh, er, wait. No it wouldn't.

      5. EBG

        you may be right

        M&A has always looked to me to be a 24/7 role.

        I've got a head hunter on my case, and need to decide this weekend whether to go for 1 last big payday before retirement. It's a director position. Or not, do I still have the drive and energy? One thing I can't reasonably do is take the job and then tell them I want to work strictly 9-5.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Good for Davidson

    But really, to go back to her desk and look forward to working with those four assholes - I wouldn't want to have to do that.

    And besides, work calls actually scheduled for Saturday mornings ? What the blazes is that ?

    If, as a manager, you can't get your work done weekdays from 8 to 8, then you're useless as a manager. Obviously, there can be exceptions, but if you have to wrap up your week every Saturday morning, then you're doing something wrong.

    Monday mornings is supposed to be the time for the weekly pep talk, not Saturday.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good for Davidson

      You've obviously not met certain types of consultancy management.

      New opportunity developement, improvement plans, reviews and other non-directly billable activities often get squeezed so much that they can only be done outside working hours.

      This is hardly ever mandated, but with your client, your team members and your bosses all looking over your shoulder it all needs doing.

      Anon because obviously.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good for Davidson

      "But really, to go back to her desk"

      Hopefully it's at home

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Good for Davidson

      "And besides, work calls actually scheduled for Saturday mornings ? What the blazes is that ?"

      Sadly it's the norm these days. You have a so-called "smart" phone with you at all times, therefore the corporation is allowed to contact you about work matters whenever they like.

      Back in the day, those of us with expensive pagers got a stipend for each and every minute we were required to be at the Corporate beck and call off work hours. Cell phones upped the anti ... and the amount of the stipend. The folks issued with electronic leashes were smart and didn't allow the company to walk all over us.

      Nowadays, with so-called "smart" phones being cheap as chips, any idiot can have one. And so they do. And corporations world-wide are taking advantage of the sheeple. Sad, isn't it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good for Davidson

        Well, here's the next phone feature: mark numbers as "work" and restrict the time the phone will signal it's receiving a call or a message thereof. Ditto with email.

        I must look into a way to make work accounts signal "out of office" for a specific list of email senders. Anyone good with Postfix? :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good for Davidson

          Might be worth looking at this

          I was googing for this earlier today and came across, so I can't vouch for it but seems reasonable.

      2. Martin

        Re: Good for Davidson

        "And besides, work calls actually scheduled for Saturday mornings ? What the blazes is that ?"

        Sadly it's the norm these days.

        No. It may be the norm in the US (though I doubt it.) It may be the norm to contact people about work issues on Saturday mornings (though, again, it depends on the sort of job). But to schedule a regular review call on a Saturday morning would cause an outcry in any office in the UK. They'd basically just say "No." And so they damn well should.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good for Davidson

      It's sadly pretty normal for weekend work at consultancies. She's fortunate that women working on Saturdays in a sueable offence.

  8. David Austin

    What absolute arses

    IBM sounds a horrid place to work, and a horrible supplier to use, with management showing equal contempt for both.

    Disappointed The Register didn't try and get a contrite statement out of an IBM Spokesface. Love to see how's they'd try and spin and brush this one off.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    "with the practices including work calls scheduled for 8am on Saturdays"

    The phrase there is "Sorry, I'm not contracted to work Saturdays". I've used it many times. If someone wants to sack me for that, that's on them - it'll cost them big and I'll be happy to just leave such a company and then sue them to oblivion.

    And no. "Any other reasonable..." clauses do not automatically include unpaid overtime without negotiation on uncontracted days. And when you want those, the magic phrase there is "negotiation". My position will consist of "It's a weekend, I'll charge you ten times more per hour with a £1000 charge for the first hour" and we'll start negotiations there.

    I don't understand why companies think such things are necessary. Even an international company - 8am on Saturday in the UK is what? 1am in the US? You'd have to be talking to someone in a Pacific Island late on a Friday their end for it to be 8am on a Saturday in the UK. It's just unnecessary, unless it's an absolute critical emergency and then my question would be why do you only have guys in the UK capable of handling your emergencies?

    This is just toxic-workplaceism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure where you've been working, but every professional/executive level private sector job I've ever had came with a contract that states my working hours are whatever time is necessary to deliver the work the business may require of me, that I opt out of the working time directive and that there's no such thing as paid overtime.

      In my experience it's simply a fact that if you want a high flying career then your employer is going to own your life 24/7.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        France recently (last year?) brought into law the right to disconnect. When you're an employee, you go home, turn the work phone off, and that's that.

        There are exceptions, if you're important and all hell has just broken loose... but by and large it is probably a response to the shit that used to fly, like giving employees their own laptops and a pile of work to do, with the cute phrase "you can just finish that when you get home" (in other words, unpaid and on your own time). This for employees on forfeit (fixed seven hour days) that already start at half eight and finish at six with an hour for lunch...

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Every employer in the last years has had my private phone number and my permission to call me in an emergency. I’ve had one call in the last five years, Saturday 4pm to 8pm, with one colleague and four guys quite high up with a customer in the call. Major contract depending on the result, and it got signed Monday morning. That’s an emergency.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Yes, but that's a company that recognises the difference.

            I had one contract with someone who thought it entirely appropriate to call me on Saturdays and Sundays to discuss the coming week's work. Strangely, he was upset that my next bill showed that as recorded overtime (the joy of iPhone call records in CSV format is that it provides nice evidence :) ).

            I have absolutely no problems with an emergency, that's simply life, but someone taking the mick is not going to do that for long. I still work to live, not the other way around.

        2. Tilda Rice

          Angry techies/small people everywhere.

          It depends on your role, and your aspirations.

          When you reach a certain level, you are available. If you are 9-5 M-F task worker, different. But an exec/senior mgr different. If you're getting a salary approaching or north of 100k, you have to accept you are going to have to do whatever it takes, whenever that is. Or take a lower paid job/lesser role.

          This default "tell em, thats my hours and you can stuff it" sounds like a juvenile reponse. But its El Reg comments section... so Linux FTW, M$ hrhr.

          1. AdamWill

            "If you're getting a salary approaching or north of 100k, you have to accept you are going to have to do whatever it takes, whenever that is."

            No, you don't.

            Source: me.

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              I'm not worth it

              I long ago realised that the amount of money a company would have to pay me to work 9 to 5 in central London was way more than I'd be worth. (I am wonderful, just not that wonderful.).

              (When I worked, I am currently a 'gentleman of leisure', my phone got switched off at the end of the working day, before I went home.)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Tilda Rice

            You sound like HR. Maybe you are HR.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Real emergencies and management created "emergencies"

          One of the main reasons IBM forced me out the door (which I'm not sorry for) was being at the dentist on a Sunday with excrucating pain rather than dealing with an entirely management created "emergency" - a broken project slipping faster than ... well, you can fill that in.

          I never had any problem working any time 24/7 for a real emergency, but one created by management incompetence and intransigence are another matter.

      2. Warm Braw

        if you want a high flying career then your employer is going to own your life

        I'd rather assumed that a high-flying career would be one in which you had some kind of autonomy. It makes my depth-plumbing career sound quite attractive by comparison.

      3. Lee D Silver badge

        "working hours are whatever time is necessary to deliver the work the business may require of me"

        UK. You're an idiot to sign that.

        A contract that REQUIRES you to opt out of working time directives is actually illegal.

        Half a dozen workplaces over 10+ years, plus 10+ years of self-employment. I have never worked a weekend in my life. I have worked late nights, and worked one Sunday when the shit hit the fan, and then got MORE time off than one day in lieu, but I didn't begrudge that and it was so important that "my contract" didn't come into my consideration of that. Never worked a single hour of unpaid overtime, in fact never worked more than 10+ hours of overtime in total in all that time.

        If that's the way you want to run your life, fine. But no company can force you to have such a contract, or make you opt out of working time (that's LITERALLY the point of that law!), or force you to work uncompensated.

        If you choose to, fine. But your contract is literally illegal if it says that, and if it doesn't say it then you can't be sacked for not doing it.

        The closest that the vast, vast majority of the people get in such things is an "As reasonably required..." which legally means "It's 5:01pm but we had to clean something up, so you can't just drop tools and walk out because it's past 5:00pm", not "you must work Saturdays uncompensated".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Never worked more than 10 hours of overtime? Pffff. I can do that in 1 day.

      4. hmv


        If it's an emergency, it's necessary. If it's a scheduled meeting for a status update, it's not necessary.

        1. jfollows

          Agreed - when I worked for IBM UK 1984-2008 I would attend meetings and so on outside normal working hours when required, if warranted.

          However I then got an invite to a weekly conference call with some "US big cheese" at something like 7pm every Tuesday evening. I felt able to decline and said something like "my commitment to IBM does not extend to a weekly meeting at 7pm", but others in different circumstances may have not felt able to do so.

          I don't think this was anything special to do with IBM, it's just bad practice and I can report that my stance was supported by my managers and colleagues at the time.

          Still, it's interesting to read about this particular case now that I no longer work for IBM. Definitely not the company I joined in 1984.

      5. nematoad Silver badge

        Then more fool you.

        Personally I worked to live, I did not live to work. Give it another 25 years and you might have second thoughts.

        1. Cederic Silver badge

          I concur. However I also recognise that a very high salary comes with very high expectations. If I need to stay on a call to our team in California until 1am, then I need to stay on the call. If I'm up at 3am on Monday morning to brief the team in Malaysia, it's an early start on Monday.

          What matters is work/life balance. I might be up at 3am, I might even still be working at 1am. I'll have had a four hour lunch break in-between and there's a good chance I'll be available via email only on Thursday, and expect delays even then.

          If I want 9-5 security with no responsibility then I can only expect a 9-5 no responsibility wage.

      6. Triggerfish

        Erm major emergency yes I'm cool with that, project run also (we cover odd hrs so part of job).

        Day to day normal operation are you kidding me? My CEO and company owner both would be asking WTF am I thinking pulling in staff for that.

      7. Binraider Silver badge

        Yeah, I've seen such contracts. Our staff grades aren't subject to this (and quite a few staff earn more than managers); however managerial contracts often are WTD-opt out, no overtime and turn up wherever you're told to turn up.

        Strangely enough, I'm quite content working on my terms, protected by collective bargaining and on better pay and hours than people alledgedly one or two "ranks" higher than myself.

      8. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


        "In my experience it's simply a fact that if you want a high flying career then your employer is going to own your life 24/7."

        Theres a word for that "Slave"

        Currently its not a popular word

      9. katrinab Silver badge

        You can opt back into the working time directive, and they can’t sack you for that.

      10. Sherrie Ludwig

        @AC, found the problem.

        If "a high flying career" requires 24/7 devotion to a job, and total availability at every whim, it isn't a job, you have been bought into slavery. You may be a harem eunuch with a cushy lot of duties and plenty to eat, but a slave nonetheless.

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge

    It does sound like "We pay you, we own you".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That may be true in the US but it doesn't quite work like that in Europe.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You want Equality? You get Equality.

    But it turns out what you really want is special treatment instead. Do none of these children have fathers? Or were they merely a means to an end and the children are now just another tool to be used to ensure the mother's "equality" is just preferential treatment with a thin veneer for respectability?

    I do not have a problem with people having equal pay and equal working conditions for doing the same work. I do have a problem with people demanding "equal rights" but then coming up with all sorts of exceptions that benefit them but cannot apply to everyone else, equally. That is not equality.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

      Back in your hole, troglodyte.

      There's plenty of actual legal precedent. She was simply warning IBM that they would be likely (in fact, certain) to lose in court, and maybe obeying the law might be a good idea.

      1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

        Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

        I object to the use of the term troglodyte in this context.


    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

      When the majority of men do 50% of ALL the child care and domestic chores, you will have a point.

      Until then, shut up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

        Indeed - and that's a point made in the mandatory D&I trainingI've recently been refreshing on - we have a variety of mandatory training that's periodic, not "do it once and then forget about it".

        It sounds like this woman was doing the right thing - alerting her employers to the fact that they were engaged in indirect discrimination and it could be costly. Any sensible employer would have said "thank you, have a gold star" - and made sure that those responsible got training in how to avoid it going forward.

        But I guess this is the problem, the managers concerned didn't pass this up the chain, but instead took it as an insult (and possibly threat). My guess is that they hid it from their management and set out on this course to cover their backsides. As already mentioned, I hope higher management will have taken the hint and dealt with these twits (substitute a different vowel if you like).

        But seeing all the stories about how IBM (or people who work for them) seems to behave, it does rather suggest an ingrained corporate culture that's going to take some turning around IFsenior management even try.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

        Oh, fuck you. The percentage of child care and household domestic work that I do (or do not do) is between my partner and I, not you or society. It's up to US to make that decision, in our own little microcosm. To suggest that somehow society as a whole should be able to judge an individual family based on that family's agreed upon division of workload is incredibly offensive.

        1. AdamWill

          Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

          That's not what they "suggested", though. They "suggested" that as long as the division of childcare and other domestic work is documented to be substantially unequal at a national scale, the legal point that scheduling work events outside of contracted work hours has the effect of indirect gender discrimination holds.

          This has nothing to do with anybody "judging" you or your partner.

      3. Juillen 1

        Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

        Quite a lot of men do more than 50% of the child care, especially in cases where the woman is the breadwinner (my brother is in exactly that situation, as was my godmother's family, and quite a few other I know).

        What you're essentially saying is that because a majority of men don't do this, then nobody should judge things on a case by case basis, which is complete bollocks.

        The most common distribution of families is to have a primary breadwinner, and now it's pretty much necessary to have a second income due to housing costs (which only rose because people started having second incomes to afford the nice houses, so the market rapidly adapted).

        Your statement says that there should be no nuance. If the woman is a breadwinner, and has a partner who is the second income, she should still have all the benefits of being that second income (i.e. at whim access to family and the ability to not meet the standard to which an arbitrary neutral person would be held to). If the breadwinner is a man, then they do not get recourse to this.

        It really is that simple. Men, by and large, sacrifice family time to work and provide. The really successful women I know also follow that model; they've sacrificed quite a bit of family time in order to hold down the top jobs (which they can do marvellously).

        Some have chosen to step back from the high powered roles in order to have the family time they desire, even if they've been a primary breadwinner. They just get by on lesser pay and a lower rated job, where the hours and calls fit what life flexibililty they way.

        Saying "Group B is more affected than Group A, because group B chooses to do something a particular way" is discriminatory in itself.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

      “ Do none of these children have fathers? ”

      Yes, some do, but the point about indirect discrimination is that it affects one group more than another.

      1. Juillen 1

        Re: You want Equality? You get Equality.

        Because one group chooses to do something. Well, nice. What you're saying is that the _choice_ of one group (and it is a choice, as evidenced by the many high powered women who sacrifice family time for the high powered roles, and the many who step back because they choose family life over work life, which is also a perfectly fine thing to do) to engage in a particular activity in a particular way should mean that rules that apply to another should not apply to them. Even if the second group also made a choice to engage in that same activity in the same way, they would be denied that flexibility, simply by nature of not belonging to that first group.

        If you don't see the direct discrimination in that, then I really don't think you've considered it carefully.

        It also seems you think indirect discrimination of one group is more important that direct discrimination of another.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So the contents of the petty cash tin then

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 22K


      If it had been a US court they might have mandated annual ethics training for IBM.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just wish I'd done my SAR request a lot sooner

    After I got screwed over a job I'd been doing just fine for 10 years with no complaints from users. Was contracting all that time then the job became available to apply. Interview went really well yet I still didn't get it. Their excuses varied because the people that were in the interview and HR couldn't make up their minds on the reason I didn't get it. Glad I recording the HR meeting and their bullshit and their accidentally telling me one of the real reasons I didn't get it "Money".

    I then, stupidly, waited 2 years before I did my SAR request because I stupidly didn't want to blacklist myself there in case I could go back. Conveniently that "couldn't find any e-mails I was requesting", yet magically still had e-mails before the dates I requested. So gave me e-mails I never requested in the hope I'd go away.

    Arseholes. Turns out I'm better off now where I am anyway. If done early enough that SAR would of exposed quite a bit. Shame.

    1. MCMLXV

      would of

      Would of have - with that grammar they're better off without you!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Just wish I'd done my SAR request a lot sooner

      Lesson learned. Keep your own copies of emails.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Just wish I'd done my SAR request a lot sooner

        Indeed. Back in my 9-5 career, I very much enjoyed thwacking manglement over the heads with large piles of paper-trail.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: Just wish I'd done my SAR request a lot sooner

          Leaving a company....drop everything into a nice pst file & keep to hand.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just wish I'd done my SAR request a lot sooner

        The e-mails I was requesting were e-mails back and forth between various people where I wasn't copied in. But I know two specific people stupid enough that they would have used work e-mail for their plot. Just a real shame I left it so late to request the SAR.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll be sure to share this article with my fellow ex-IBMers

    They'll all nod and say, "yup, IBM hasn't changed"!

  15. Uncle Ron

    Common Denominator

    I worked for IBM for 4 decades. I am not exaggerating, in those 40+ years, there were DOZENS of instances, events, situations--call them what you like--where I could have been a 'whistle blower' but I was simply too much a coward to act. I was cheated out of commissions, I was discriminated against for multiple reasons, as a senior (expensive) person, I was given impossible jobs to push me out, and more. I was determined not to get pushed out. I will say this: I loved IBM and I still do. The vast majority of the people I worked directly for and directly with were first-rate. The company has some stink in various places, there seems to be a personnel rot-process that goes on up the ladder, in the middle zones, that upper levels are either unaware of, or simply ignore, or actively encourage in order to meet their own objectives. IBM is still doing wonderful things, is still technologically very smart, and continues, IMHO, to be indispensable to the industry. At the end of the day, I feel that the pressure placed on every company in the world by the capital markets has been very destructive. I believe more destructive for IBM than others, because IBM has had further to fall.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Common Denominator

      > I loved IBM and I still do

      The term for this is “Stockholm syndrome”

  16. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Discrimination ...... is like a virulent disease

    Who's going to tell the Permanent Secretary at Northern Ireland's Dept. of Economy, Mike Brennan, what discrimination is, for he appears to be an avid practitioner of it if you can believe and accept the warped rationale he espouses in this short 1:01 clip .....

    It doesn't take one long to shoot oneself in the foot, does it, and make yourself an enemy of the people to boot. Well done that man. You're an absolute star.

    Is it any wonder there were formerly Troubles in the province whenever such is the calibre of Stormont officialdom.

    1. MCMLXV

      Bloody hell, that mostly makes sense. And no random capitalisations either. You've had your dried frog pills today, haven't you?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Discrimination ...... is like a virulent disease

      "It doesn't take one long to shoot oneself in the foot, does it, and make yourself an enemy of the people to boot."

      The boot must have been on the other foot.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Discrimination ...... is like a virulent disease

        With a velvet sock, no doubt.

        Let them eat cake.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Discrimination ...... is like a virulent disease

          Let them eat cake. .... jake

          And we all know what that sort of inattentive attitude delivers, jake. And nowadays, with the help of these virtual tools, is IT with AI an Almighty Revolutionary Weapon and/or Novel AIdDevelopment for Extremely Powerful Generations of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive Energy ..... Future Immaculate Source Supply of Views to Display Created by News in Almighty Novel Revolutionary AIdDevelopments ....... for one is wise to assume there be many more than just the one, and there be others much further travelled along and enjoying that very particular and decidedly designedly attractively peculiar root. :-)

          Surely it is inconceivable to imagine or realise one is totally virtual unknown and practically all alone and there to seed and feed leading information and greater intelligence to media interdependent systems of politically correct population command and control ......... Celestial Extraterrestrial Global Administration ...... rather than simply following in the steps others have successfully applied to reap eternal benefits from.?

          What say you? Are there bound to be Other Almighty Others too, much more experienced and proving insatiably able in Favoured Fields of Prime Endeavour ...... an Abiding Passion to Quench and Satisfy the Carnal Desire Tempting Lust to Try Overtake Other More LOVEly Ways :-)

          Live Operational Virtual Environments Offer such a Reward/Bonus/Just Dessert to All Worthy of .... well, deny it is a Heavenly Prize invites Others to Venture Devilish Plays in Worlds of their Own Creation. And that practically, almost immediately has leaderships accurately identified for Authorisation Accountability and Lead Programmer Enablements/Shrewd Canny Investment in Future Systems AIdDrivers so beloved of Virgin Stock Markets/Clean Slate Operations.

          Facts or fictions are the hanging questions dangled to entangle the truly worthy there.

          I Kid U Not. Have a nice day, y'all, and have a nice 0day too. :-)

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Discrimination ...... is like a virulent disease

            Here's the competition/opposition/client/sugar daddy/commanding mistress ? :-) ...... Trump Administration To Invest $1 Billion In Quantum Computing, AI

            Do you believe Blighty is invested and nurturing the quantum field with the usual leading play of the magic enablement delivered with unlimited funds for governments to grant to worthy recipients ? It is how they are only ever allowed to lead with the help they are then so graciously financing/enabling ..... bringing into life.

            Creating Extra Sympathetic and Greater EMPathetic Help for Novel Quantum Field Operations is a Real SMARTR Move .... and when suitably engaged and employed/active and deployed an absolute joy to behold and gem of a program to present.

            I suppose Dominic Cummings is the current incumbent government bod with any prior or relevant knowledge able to deliver an informed decision and compelling case for unbridled support for any program and/or proposals from and also for any surprisingly attractive misfits and weirdos with ancient skills and novel methodologies to import and export ‽ .

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              IT's a Kind of Majic* Magic ..... ‽ .

              I suppose Dominic Cummings is the current incumbent government bod with any prior or relevant knowledge able to deliver an informed decision and compelling case for unbridled support for any program and/or proposals from and also for any surprisingly attractive misfits and weirdos with ancient skills and novel methodologies to import and export ‽ .

              Having said that though, and having had a moment or two to further reflect more deeply and otherly upon such as are able to be any number of highly unusual and extremely disruptive matters, one would have to ponder on the likelihood of an especially favourable and even almost exclusive interest being equally well served and servered to ....... well, there be at least seven establishments one can easily think of immediately as being in danger of being severely, and even possibly catastrophically disadvantaged, if opposed to or left trailing in the wake of such novel and noble fields being explored and energised.

              And all nations to a similar extent will have their own versions of these Blighty centric institutions/status quo players...... and in no particular hierarchical order ...

              MI5 and the Military Machine

              MI6 and Secret Intelligence Services .... Spooky Deep Cover Agents/GCHQ/NCSC/etc.

              Right Royal Crown Services

              Almighty Church leaders

              Prime Banker Elites/National and International Bank governorships

              Media Mogul Empires

              Assorted Billionaire Oligarchs, both borderline sane and insane.

              Now that they know of the danger, and there are surely those here who can easily draw the attention of those specifically mentioned above to the matter, if it so takes their fancy and they can be bothered to stir themselves into any sort of live futuristic action, and unveil what can easily be as an almighty nest of raging hornets, as to ignore it rather than engage it will guarantee their unenviable self destruction ...... which further simply demonstrates their total lack of future necessary intelligence.

              Such things have never been missed in the past, and so it is in every current present crisis which has no novel solution. Things move on, new practical virtual leaderships appear as if out of nowhere.

              * :-) ..... MAJIC Official Trailer .... which you might like to realise is something of a misdirection? :-) ...... some cold comfort.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: IT's... ...Magic

                but they simply cannot ignore MAJIQ

                do "they" own "their" DNA? (-:

          2. Cliff Thorburn

            Re: Discrimination ...... is like a virulent disease

            What a catch 22 conundrum that is indeed amFM.

            And you are right on the money when tasked with entering the great game arena for one last swing at goliath, rather than forever live in doubt, after all we only forget the things we never did ...

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It sounds like the discrimination training they need is how to to discrimination what they need to hear from what they want to hear.

  18. Electric Panda

    What will happen to the apparently rogue managers in this story? My guess is "Sweet Felicity Arkwright".

    I don't expect them to be punished internally by IBM for losing this tribunal and embarrassing the business, but then again, IBM has been mired in so much negative publicity at one time or another that I guess they don't care.

  19. jake Silver badge

    Hang on a second.

    Isn't this an incredibly sexist thing to say?

    "I explained that as women predominantly had responsibility for childcare, calls out of normal working hours have a disproportionate effect on them, which would be indirect sex discrimination,"

    1. AdamWill

      Re: Hang on a second.

      Er. No. It's a widely documented fact. Women do more childcare.

      Saying women *ought to* do more childcare is probably sexist, in most contexts. Saying they *currently do* is a statement of fact.

      1. Sherrie Ludwig

        Re: Hang on a second.

        Er. No. It's a widely documented fact. Women do more childcare.

        Saying women *ought to* do more childcare is probably sexist, in most contexts. Saying they *currently do* is a statement of fact.

        Frankly, given that this is being told to hand over unpaid personal time on a regular basis outside work hours. I don't care if she was painting her nails, doing charity volunteer things or just sleeping in, personal time is just that PERSONAL, and barring extenuating circumstances, off limits.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surprised ...... *Not at all* !!!

    The whole story start to finish is totally standard IBM & in fact common to many USA based global companies.

    There appears to be a point where complying with the *local* laws seems to get *too much* bother.

    I worked for a large US company who did similar every year ...... if you fell out of favor you were *encouraged* to leave.

    They tried to do this in France and ignored the very strict employment laws ........ fell foul of the regs *very badly* and had to pay many multiple years salary as compensation and could not sack the individual involved. The individual then negotiated a further multiple years salary compensation to leave by resigning their job.

    Did similar in the UK and also ended up paying compensation ..... not to the same degree as France as their Employment laws are very very strict and applied to the letter, while the UK laws can still be 'gamed'.

    Expect that loyalty is mostly one-way ........ you to the company !!!

    1. JassMan

      Re: Surprised ...... *Not at all* !!!

      Mandatory Brexit comment

      With it looking increasingly likely that the UK have always intended to have a "No deal Brexit" since they don't even bother to turn up for negotiations any longer, it looks like IBM's behaviour will become the norm after December 31st. It would appear that the government have always intended to scrap all the EU directives which are holding back our famous world beating British industry.

      OK bring on the downvotes, but guess what - I am so depressed by Boris's chums even being able to organise a piss-up in a brewery, that I just don't care anymore. All they seem to be able to do is to break the law with impunity by giving £5 billion of tax payers money to their mates without putting any contracts out to tender.

  21. Stoke the atom furnaces


    My experience working as an assignee to an IBM plant in the US is that their management is so dysfunctional and poor at making decisions in the first place, you have to wonder what they can possibly achieve at 8am on Saturday morning that cannot wait until Monday.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Dysfunctional

      Illegally disturbing employees at home.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And remember children

    HR are not your friend.

    No matter how interested they appear to be in your welfare, they will always back the company over you. Even if it's unethical. And sometimes, as in this case, illegal.

    Standing up to HR when you're in the right is the surest way to earn black stars and discrimination.

  23. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    child care?

    I think claiming indirect sex discrimination because they expect people to be available off hours and women are disproportionately responsible for child care, that argument is crap. There's nothing wrong with wanting a job where you're off work when you're off work, but one can't expect to be in a job that does expect that and say they shouldn't have to because of gender.

    But every action IBM is said to have taken agaist her after that sounds quite improper so good on her for getting a settlement.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My only question is, that if I've read the details correctly, she whistleblew because she was being asked to take 8am work calls. I suspect there must have been more to it than that.

    Anyway, if she is given a job stapling pages together until such time as she leaves or they reorganise and ditch her, she can make the most of it.

    In my organisation I knew a guy under a disciplinary investigation for three years (this is not unusual) and he was barred from accessing work systems. So he literally just sat and stapled for three years on £46k a year.

    Suited him fine, though he wasn't allowed to do anything non-work related so couldn't do online courses etc, which is fair enough.

    They realised he wasn't going to quit so just gave up and let him come back to work. Then he quit!

  25. Richard Pennington 1

    Working on a weekend...

    I remember one job in about 1995 when I worked through a weekend. We were putting together a bid, to a tight schedule. I put in back-to-back 18-hour days on the Saturday and Sunday, finishing my own section and staying on to do instant technical reviews of other sections as they were completed. The team were all there; the managers were manning the high-end printer, and when we finished, the program manager (an ex rally driver) drove the bid package from Farnborough to Norwich (with another copy in another car travelling at a more sedate speed in case the program manager crashed en route).

    And the differences:

    (1) The whole team, including the managers, were there, working hard and covering for each other (and for jobs they wouldn't normally do);

    (2) They had pizzas delivered at regular intervals;

    (3) It was a one-off, to get the bid complete and delivered to a tight deadline;

    (4) When we finished (about 4am on the Monday), we were instructed to take time off in lieu, and not to come in until Thursday.

    The firm was taken over by IBM in 1996. I left in 2000.

  26. Spanners Silver badge

    Attempted Implementation of US Employment practices

    IBM has long got away with appalling business and employment practices in the USA because they are pretty common there. They want us to feel the benefits!

  27. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Nice managers

    It seems that nice people get to rise in companies as much as nasty ones:

    "... the study showed that nice people reached positions of power just as much as nasty people, regardless of the organisation they worked in. ..."

    So I may have to reconsider my opinions, reality can be so frustrating. Although the article does not say anything about competence...

    1. Noonoot

      Re: Nice managers

      nah. Some nice people may do well. That doesn't mean that they've actually behaved well.

      At work, the TEAM is all a farce. Yeah you do your work for the benefit of the TEAM, but when push comes to shove, that " I did this, I did that, he didn't do this, she didnt do that" is constantly there.

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