back to article Ex IBM sales manager, fired after battling discrimination against subordinates, wins $11m lawsuit

On Thursday, a federal jury in Seattle, Washington, found that former IBM sales manager Scott Kingston had been unlawfully fired by the company and denied sales commission after challenging the treatment of subordinates as racially biased. And it awarded him $11.1m. The case dates back to 2017 when two IBM sales people within …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey, IBM spokesperson!

    "IBM does not condone retaliation, race discrimination, or any other form of discrimination. But the company will consider doing it any time we can get away with it as it helps profits."

    FIFY

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The company will consider all of its options on appeal."

    A good option is to realise you lost & are going to continue losing and issue a statement that it was all down to a former manager who is no longer with the business. After all,the number of people no longer with IBM's business makes it entirely credible.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge
      FAIL

      The former manager

      But I think that former manager still gets a hefty consultancy fee for very little work, according to a Register story about her not so long ago.

    2. onemark03 Bronze badge

      "The company will consider all of its options on appeal."

      Of course they'll appeal - simply in order to get the $11 million reduced. See McDonalds and the hot cup of coffee episode.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: "The company will consider all of its options on appeal."

        McDonalds didn't appeal that case for the reasons you seem to be implying.

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Discrimination

    A bit of Racial Discrimination here

    A bit of Age Discrimination there

    Discrimination makes the Corporate World go round

    Discrimination makes the Corporate World go round

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BLM

    We are pleased by the jury's verdict

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BLM

      Perhaps IBM becomes I Bloody Matter.

      1. very angry man

        Re: BLM

        NO you bloody DON"T!

    2. John Doe 12

      Re: BLM

      I don't think this is truly a "BLM" issue so calm down dear. Asians and Hispanics are most likely discriminated against in equal measure and this is why I am an "ALM" person. Not because I am white but because "BLM" doesn't hit the target in a proper way.

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: BLM

        Quite a few BLM activists hate me for being white, while I get discriminated in the UK for not being british. Less than ideal.

        In my opinion it went from logical to toxic quite quickly, and same for ALM, because it also got and influx of haters, supremacists, etc

  5. elDog

    IBM, Oracle, SAP - same eyes on the short-term bottom line for the stock market

    As long as the C-suite benefits don't get impacted, screw the little people.

    Just like those other dinosaurs who couldn't adjust to a mere meteor strike.

    Or the current group of climate deniers who won't change their policies to try to keep the planet alive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM, Oracle, SAP - same eyes on the short-term bottom line for the stock market

      The planet will be alive and thriving long after humanity has wiped itself out. That's more than can be said for IBM.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    "after IBM fired him in April, 2018"

    No really so. One or more unnamed people within IBM fired him. These people should be named by the court and penalised for what they did.

    Unless these people (and their managers all the way up to the top) are penalised heavily then this bad behaviour will continue at IBM and elsewhere.

  7. fredesmite2

    The only employee to ever retire from IBM without getting pink slipped

    Was Ginni Romni

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: The only employee to ever retire from IBM without getting pink slipped

      Not so, she followed the trend set by all former CEOs and most SVPs.

  8. Johan Bastiaansen

    But we saw you do it ! ! !

    ""IBM does not condone retaliation, race discrimination, or any other form of discrimination."

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      No, you don't understand. IBM doesn't condone it, but it will discriminate every time it thinks it helps its bottom line.

      Which is, increasingly, not all that often.

      Not to worry. When IBM's beancounters come up with the figures and finally say "um, we think this behavior is detrimental to our benefits", then things will change.

      Until then, go lawsuits !

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gobsmacked.

  10. xyz123

    The full version:

    IBM policy: IBM does not OPENLY condone retaliation, race discrimination, or any other form of discrimination, but them inferior races gotta know they aren't worth as much as a civilized man....

  11. JWLong Bronze badge

    The IBM option

    Go buy a bigger fuck'n shovel to bury your dumb asses with.

    Of course someone would have to prove the ROI to accounting so as to get said purchase of a bigger shovel approved.

    Then they could discriminate in a true c-suit way.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe time to bar IBM bids for State and Federal contracts for 5 years

    There is no doubt a backstory but the evidence looks pretty damning. The first story that came to mind was the horrific stories of sexual harassment and racial discrimination at Mitsubishi's US auto operations in the 1980's and 1990's. As a result of the lawsuits and the huge negative publicity Mitsubishi went from being the fastest growling and most successful new marque in the US market into dead and buried within a decade.

    By this stage IBM is little more than a rotting carcass. Lets just take the mother' out the back of the woodshed and shoot it. For everyones sake.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe time to bar IBM bids for State and Federal contracts for 5 years

      Sounds remarkably like today's stories abut the Church of England. In as much as it's not simply the discrimination, but the blatant, open, unapologetic (until caught at least), visible discrimination. As if even the social filter that stops people openly behaving in the racist way they might want to has been removed.

  13. nautica Bronze badge
    Holmes

    No kidding ‽

    "...We are disappointed by the jury's verdict," IBM said in a statement emailed to The Register.

    We were expecting, maybe, that they would be elated at the verdict? [that particular scenario would not have been a surprise either, given how brain-dead IBM has become]

    This statement was, of course, generated by the same simian-IQ legal division which can't keep IBM out of trouble when it comes to any form of discrimination or harassment. What a bunch of a**holes.

  14. spold
    Holmes

    Sadly...at the end of the day...

    ...only the lawyers will be happy. "We always try to appeal".

  15. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    "We are proud of our client, Scott Kingston, for standing up for what’s right,” said Matthew E. Lee, an attorney with Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, the law firm representing Kingston, in a statement. “He deserved justice and, after three long years, this verdict has given him that and a nice new Mercedes for us”

    Fixed that for you...

  16. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

    Who makes the decisions about what bonus is paid. It seems from cases reported here that it is down to a single person - usually a manager who is direct involved. The chances of unfair discrimination are really high. Surely these decisions* should go to a committee of people with no skin in the game.

    *at least above a certain level.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Committee

      If they had a committee then it would be harder to say it wasnt company policy.

      Also, big egos dont work well with otjers, so discard that.

      BTW, this reminds me of a friend who got sacked after a huge sale that took him almost two years.

      He got fired after the sale.. so he could not get the bonus.

      Logic behind the firing "it would take years for him to close another important sale and he is expensive".

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      The chances of unfair discrimination are really high. Surely these decisions* should go to a committee of people with no skin in the game.

      I thought all IBM employees were grey. Case seems a bit odd, ie white gets paid $1m, black doesn't. Manager fired for overpaying the white guy, and manager wins $11m.

      So was there real discrimination, or not? Case seems to be based on retaliation and unfair dismissal, with some undertones of racism. But I've not read the verdict yet.

      I do think there could be some merit in an internal appeals/dispute committee that tries to be as blind as possible. So Employee A and Employee B, no names, no ages, everything gender neutral so just the facts. Which I guess would be easier to do in a large company where employees & committee never meet, but there'd still be a chance committee members could find/figure out. But then fire those members, because why would they go looking for factors that could then discriminate against the employee.

      Seems like it should work for things like commission & pay disputes, ie here's contract A and contract B. Similar sized deals, one attracted $1m commission, the other didn't.

      Why?

      And other than having access to both employee's commission plans, there'd be no need to really know anything more about the salesperson.

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