back to article IBM researcher suing for age discrimination blames CEO Arvind Krishna for his ousting

IBM has consistently denied that its layoffs over the past few years have targeted older workers. However, according to an age discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of former IBM research scientist Eugen Schenfeld, all the employees terminated in the company's Research Division in 2018 were over 40 and most were over 50. The …


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  1. ecofeco Silver badge


    It's not like IBM has a long record of age discrimination!

    Oh wait...

  2. sanmigueelbeer

    Get a number ...

    The line is long (and getting longer).

  3. Giles C Silver badge

    At this rate those in charge will have to fire themselves because they are too old….

    Who am I kidding.

    1. JK63

      The resource actions are only for actual productive employees, not executives.

  4. Frozit

    Who wants to work for IBM?

    The part that I never understand about these IBM stories is, who are they hiring?

    The demand for technically savvy people is so high that who would work for IBM? Even in the 80s they didn't get the best, so who are they hiring today?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

      Mostly Indians. The "younger workforce" angle is misleading in that it implies someone older was fired and then they went out and hired someone 20 years younger to do the same job in the same office for, say, 40% less money. In fact most of these employees are not replaced at all (IBM have been net shrinking the whole time), and when they are the replacement is invariably in India or wherever else they can find cheap warm bodies because the entire org was also offshored. I'd assume that even in India, IBM are not able to attract the best people but their primary concern is cost, not quality.

      1. GruntyMcPugh

        Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

        Don't forget the UK 'Client Innovation Centres' where recent graduates are given a fixed contract of 23 months so they don't get exployment rights, are given GBC IDs (contractor) and not enrolled in the pension. Individuals can be plucked from each year's intake, and the rest replaced with fresh meat.

        But yes, also staff in India, where staff churn is quite high. We lost a guy in a lunchtime, he went out to get food, got talking to a guy, and got a new job. Microsoft Mumbai aren't far from IBM Mumbai.

      2. Doctor Huh?

        Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

        I will dispute your last point. IBM still has brand recognition and a reputation (deserved or not) for being selective, so it attracts top talent in India -- for two to five years. With a stint at IBM on the CV, that person can then find a job almost anywhere and command a high salary.

        1. Fred Daggy Silver badge

          Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

          6 IBM contractors on one project, all just left from one day to the next (different days) putting the knowledge transfer back to square one. This project was just one of many that our previous internal person used to do. Nearly 6 months and not one scrap of value has been added by IBM and the bugs and complaints are piling up. IBM didn't even have the courtesy to tell us that they had left and they were now sourcing the replacement!

          What happens when a Senior iSeries Administrator asks for the IP address so he can "Remote Desktop" in to it? Or needs talking through running IPCONFIG on his PC?

          India Business Machines would never, ever get considered for any project I manage. Sadly, I'm not in charge.

          1. fredesmite2

            Re: Who wants to work for IBM?


            contractors take your money and spend all their time looking for their next FT job - then they leave ASAP.

            1. FrankAlphaXII

              Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

              If you treat people like they're mercenaries, as most businesses do with contractors or whatever the MBAese for people who are doing work a regular employee would do for less money and no benefits is now (I've heard Contingent Worker, External Solutions Provider, etc), don't be surprised one bit when they don't have loyalty whatsoever and leave for greener pastures or a permanent position with a competitor when they get offered one. Its the nature of the beast, by design, and there are alternatives.

              1. fredesmite2

                Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

                A contractors primary role is to get a full-time position with the benefits deserved

                F the employer

            2. fredesmite2

              Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

              How can I get down voted for a fact ?

              A contractors primary role is to get a full-time position with the benefits deserved .

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

            There you have the reason why you are not in charge.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

        Yep cheap warm bodies. Even over there the good ones won't work at IBM. Dealing with some of the teams from India, we'd be better off hiring high school students who have taken a computer course

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

      When I was there, they sacked all of IBM Sweden developers who had only been there for 30+ years (and wrote the original s/w they were developing on) and outsourced to Romania. No experience, 30 years younger and 60% cheaper.

      That lasted 3 years and then they got laid off too - cue the sub continent and Brazil.

      Then IBM closed down IBM Bedfont which was the main location for support.

      They once did a redundancy where they laid off an entire team of support analysts and devs (all over the age of 50) to then realise there was no one in the company (all of IBM) who could support the product.

      About turn and they were all re-hired on a different package that saw them lose their original benefits.

      .. and then they hire the 30-somethings and wonder why customers are unhappy.

      The company cannot find its arse with both hands

      1. Gwaptiva

        Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

        <insert picture of T-Rex trying to wipe its bum here>

    3. bobby s

      Re: Who wants to work for IBM?

      We tried to hire for our group in the spring. Of the 3 hires, one never showed up, the other two quit within a few weeks. Right now a large part of the developments teams are co-op students (it's literally all we can get)

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "IBM appeared to have the possibility of a fresh start with the departure of key executives ... But if Schenfeld's case heads to trial, IBM's new regime may have to deal with the consequences of old business decisions."

    I suppose they have the option of settling and attributing it all to "former officers of the company".

  6. fredesmite2

    Virginia M. Rometty.

    The only person at IBM over the age of 50 that actually reached the retirement age without getting laid off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rikor Mortoise Grimace

      Ginny is still on the payroll of IBM as a "consultant" paid no less than 20 hours a week at top slab paychecks for rest of her life.

      Hiring ANY staff for IBM is going poorly due to the historical bad stuff(tm) they have done to their most talented employees. When people hear IBM is the employer they run far far away and join the competitor firms.

      Now that they have kicked out the Support services staff into "Kill_em" and formed a "new" dept called IBM consulting ... Which is basically to cover the "services" workforce that they just kicked out.... You know .... The Senior services support staff ..... Ugh

      The amount of acquisitions and lack of proper integration of said staff mixed in with PHBs and worse top manglement decisions and so much bad blood. Almost like they were summoning Satan and raising hell with the blood of innocents.

  7. Yes Me Silver badge

    Poor shareholder value

    20 years of annual reviews and 100 patents and after all that they concluded that he was no good. Boy, they could have saved 19 years' salary and all that legal expenditure on the patents. What mismanagement. All that waste on R&D. No wonder sales are down.

    (If there was a Sarcasm Alert icon, I'd have used it.)

    1. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: Poor shareholder value

      Given that El Reg is principally Right-Pondian, one would presume that the management deemed a Sarcasm Alert icon to be superfluous.

  8. EricB123 Silver badge

    Same Old Same Old

    Why does America even bother to have age discrimination laws when they make defending them almost impossible? Oh, I know now. So they can look like a caring government but still allow corporations that lobby, I mean bribe, the politicians to stay happy. The politicians get the best of both worlds, and anyone else gets the shaft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same Old Same Old

      Why does America even bother to have age discrimination laws

      1. X5-332960073452

        Re: Same Old Same Old

        How else can they populate their cheap labo(u)r camps?

  9. Falmari Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Project Ruby

    From the article "a parallel headcount reduction has been referred to as Project Ruby".

    That tells you all you need to know, the clue is in the name. Ruby wedding anniversary is 40 years.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Project Ruby

      Hope that can be looked as circumstantial evidence of intent

  10. BazNav

    Height discrimination

    the vast majority were over 50"

    I may have misread that

    1. quxinot

      Re: Height discrimination

      Well, that would indeed make some significant sense and be a truthful statement, yes?

  11. Jilara

    Selling the employees, as well

    Back when I worked at Cadence in the early 2000s, we acquired an entire division of IBM employees by IBM essentially selling their indentures. Apparently, we had a need for their services, and they were all older guys, so bingo, bango, instead of contracting with IBM, they sold us the division. And that was when Cadence was still gobbling up small companies like the Borg, so getting an IBM cast-off was right in the playbook.

    And boy, were these guys pissed, because suddenly they had a new set of lesser benefits/retirement packages. It was really hard to work with them, as there was all this simmering resentment. (Never mind our division, being another acquisition by Cadence of Borg, had our own issues.) However, they also got downsized along with many of the rest of us, when Cadence got caught in some problematic business dealings. Fire or frying pan, what fun!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Selling the employees, as well

      One Gross of your finest IBMers please

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM well they used to be good- Teller and Oberth were old men

    The human mind peaks at 40-60 IBM don't know much about cognitive science.

  13. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Logan's Run

    Now why did that pop into my head

  14. Jim 68

    This is typical of a corporate environment that places stock buybacks above creativity and innovation. IBM has been engaged for over a decade in deliberate age discrimination mainly to cut the payroll.

    And the company's customers have suffered from it.

    At this point as a customer I would never do business with IBM, largely because they have nothing to offer.

  15. earl grey

    one can only hope

    that ibm get a right swift kick in the nads.

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