back to article IBM made ‘top-down’ efforts to fire older workers, says US employment discrimination watchdog

IBM systematically sought to sack older workers, according to the United States' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). That opinion was expressed in an EEOC determination regarding claims lodged by more than 60 people against the tech goliath, all alleging “they and a class of similarly situated individuals were …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard Modus Operandi for IBM

    Unless you're Ginni Rommety, its how IBM gets to exploit cheap grads, while taking expensive, experienced staff off their books.

    Their entire performance appraisal system is geared to get rid of the most expensive employees. Nothing to do with skills.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Standard Modus Operandi for IBM

      And their recent performance is reflected in their dumping of experienced, skilled employees.

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Standard Modus Operandi for IBM

      IBM does not need experiences.

      All IBM needs are salespeople who are paid by commission ... oh, wait.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standard Modus Operandi for IBM

      There are other older workers at the top.

      The are protected or are political hires.

      Office politics not government politics for those who have never worked for the borg or other big corporations.

      The performance appraisal system is meant to cull the herd and to turn over the workforce.

      (You can blame Jack Welch of GE for that one) But it goes beyond that.

      You have a company run by bean counters and a disorganized sales force along with a few other major problems.

      The only ones w Job Security are the bean counters.

      Posted Anon for all of the obvious reasons. I escaped over 15 years ago, but still know my serial number.

    4. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Standard Modus Operandi for IBM

      Sadly, to compete with Tata Consulting Services, Cognizant and Infosys, IBM has decided to pay like TCS, Cognizant and Infosys. You can't do that if you rely on expensive, experienced westerners to keep the ship going.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Standard Modus Operandi for IBM

        And without all those old fuddy-duddies who think they know everything, you get results like TCS, Cognizant and Infosys.

        Which is to say, things go well, until the system actually has to do what it's supposedly designed to do, under load, 24/7/365, then, of course, the finger-pointing and lawsuits start...but we have lawyers for that.

    5. cortland

      Re: Standard Modus Operandi for IBM

      That's so -- but the loss due to less experienced replacements could easily have been more than the savings in wages and benefits.

      Some of the things I saw during an second, post-military career that started in 1983 and retired from in 2011 lead me to believe that penny-pinching firms that don't take advantage of that much experience will eventually end up paying for a lower level of expertise.

      About 12 years ago, working on an aircraft electronics system, I noticed one of the test labs certifying compliance with mandatory aviation standards (look up ED-14*) had computerized test stations, and had put a janitor to running one. That's probably a rare occurrence, but I've seen engineers with degrees making mistakes just as bad. *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DO-160

      For want of a nail...

  2. redpawn Silver badge

    Next Time!!

    You might get a slap on the wrist, so stop leaving evidence.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Next Time!!

      Quite!

      "IBM you have been a very naughty employer, if you discriminate against older employees again, we ae going to have to give you a very strong talking to.

      Now, would you like ice cream?"

      Without penalties, a hearing like this is just going to encourage IBM to be more creative next time.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Next Time!!

        Without penalties, a hearing like this is just going to encourage IBM to be more creative next time.

        And with penalties even more so.

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Next Time!!

        Well, I'd hope that 10,000 people each suing IBM for close to a million dollars each would have some effect.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    Love to be fired!

    Where I'm living, if you're fired, you get one month salary for each year with the org... 22 years plus benefits!

    1. Raoul Miller

      Re: Love to be fired!

      Here in the US you get nothing.

      You may get 2 weeks pay as a conciliatory gesture, but if you make waves you are simply shown the door

    2. exIBMer

      Re: Love to be fired!

      Where are you living? Cloud Cuckoo Land?

      IBM doesn't pay a penny more than the legal minimum and even tries to avoid this by claiming you are voluntarily retiring

  4. trevorde

    No one is safe

    Especially if you're a woman:

    https://www.theregister.com/2020/08/28/ibm_whistleblower_wins_22k_compensation/

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and since long before 2013

    I know someone who used to work at IBM and he says this has been going on long before the dates the case covered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and since long before 2013

      Sure.

      You have a couple of factors:

      1) Bean Counters... all people are the same cogs, so find the cheapest cogs and make as high a margin as possible, regardless of the quality of the output.

      2) Staff Culling... Cull the bottom 10% because it will motivate the other 90% and allow for fresh blood.

      It doesn't matter if you're a 1 performer but suddenly hit a snag while the rest of your team are all 1 performers.

      3) Rig the system. Only allow top grades for a small margin. So if your entire team hits the target and exceeds the target... you still cull from the bottom 10% so you still cut a high performer.

      4) Shift the back office work to lower cost centers. So if you need a contract approved, it goes to a drone where English isn't the first language and there is a time delay. What used to take 12 hours now takes 72.

      But you saved money... so you come out ahead.

      5) Ignore the customer.

      IBM is expensive and when they reduce skills but charge more than their competitors, they lose competitive advantage and business.

      6) Promote those who have brown necks. (It used to be brown lips, but that's no longer enough)

      There's more but you get the idea.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: and since long before 2013

      Absolutely - this is not news, it's been going on for years now.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 1% always looking for more ways to make it all theirs, while their bought and paid for sham justice system could care less, what else is new?

    1. nematoad Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Do you mean that?

      "...while their bought and paid for sham justice system could care less, "

      You are absolutely right. They could care less, that's why they are doing what they are doing.

      What I think you mean is they could not care less. I have noticed that putting it like that is an Americanism and is indicative of not understanding what the phrase should really mean.

      1. JacobZ
        Headmaster

        Yes, they mean that Re: Do you mean that?

        If the author is American, "could care less" is exactly what they meant. The phrase has a universally understood meaning in American English that decades ago diverged from the literal meaning of the words taken out of this context. "Understanding what the phrase should really mean".

        Fun fact: I have a list of things called "More Wrong", where the people correcting others are actually incorrect. This is on the list

      2. CrackedNoggin

        Re: Do you mean that?

        Obviously, this is an issue about which you could care less, and you ain't head over heels in love with American English. You'd enjoy this:

        "Dear America... | David Mitchell's SoapBox"

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw

        1. nematoad Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Do you mean that?

          I do not give a toss about American English, nor any other variety. Each to his own.

          What does annoy me is when a cliche is trotted out and the user by not quoting it correctly ends up saying quite the opposite. That is to my mind lazy thinking and does not reflect well on the user. "I ain't got nothing" must mean that the person has something but stuff like that is often said.

          Language, spelling and grammar change through time. What should stay the same is the logic in a sentence. If you mean to say something is blue you do not describe it as green.

          1. KBeee Bronze badge

            Re: Do you mean that?

            As Dave Gorman pointed out from people mishearing and not understanding

            "Like a bowl in a china shop"

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do you mean that?

            " "I ain't got nothing" must mean that the person has something"

            No, it doesn't, because that's not how language works. If you spend ANY time at all listening to actual English speakers, it quickly becomes obvious that, like several other languages, in English a double negative is often an emphatic negative, not a positive. Despite what your middle school teacher might have told you, that's simply a fact about English, and to pretend otherwise makes you sound like a pedantic thirteen year old with a dictionary.

            Despite what many engineers might wish, English does not follow rules of rigorous logic, nor does it have the formal semantics of a programming language. English means what it communicates. And that means that you are simply wrong on the facts when it comes to double negatives.

  7. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Oh no, not the meetings!

    That will scare them straight! What goes on in these meetings? "Now then IBM, I want you to sit there and reflect on how naughty you've been and how this affects others".

    1. David Lewis 2
      Coat

      Re: Oh no, not the meetings!

      I'll bet the are given the "comfy chair"!

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Oh no, not the meetings!

        No-one expects that!

  8. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Lawsuits

    This could make for some interesting lawsuits as this is government saying this.

    1. Mike the FlyingRat
      Boffin

      Huh? Re: Lawsuits

      The lawsuits already exist.

      See the UK.

      In the US the EEOC's findings means that IBM has to go to Arbitration to settle the claim(s).

      Its an alternative route to lawsuits which is legal and binding.

  9. RM Myers Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Summer in the City - IBM Style

    Hot town, summer in the city,

    IBM's treatin' older workers pretty sh*tty,

    Been down, isn't it a pity,

    Workers treated like cattle in the city

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad Old Company

    IBM once the mega corp

    Now just mega crap

    Agism is rife in IT along with positive discrimination, it makes a large experienced section of the work force unemployable.

    Sorry sad state of affairs.

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