back to article Dinobabies latest: IBM settles with widow of exec who killed himself after layoff

IBM has settled an age-discrimination case brought by the widow of a sales executive who took his own life after being laid off by the IT giant. Denise Lohnn and Big Blue reached a tentative agreement on March 31, and US District Judge Lewis Liman stayed the case pending a decision on whether sensitive documents at the heart …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge

    Another

    Multi-national buys its way out of trouble.

    Nothing to see.

    Few hundred more to pay off.

    No liability accepted.

    Nothing wrong done.

    Move along.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another

      Thousands more...and Rometty, Gherson AND THE MANAGERS who selected, set up & laid off these stellar employees. They are the real criminals bc they were incompetent, of the age to be laid off, but took the deal to destroy other employees lives, layvthem off & then get promoted. That's the REAL story.

  2. JacobZ
    Holmes

    Funnily enough...

    ...de-aging the work force never seems to apply to the CEO and other senior execs, where extensive experience is considered a plus.

    1. FozzyBear
      Unhappy

      Re: Funnily enough...

      where extensive experience is considered a plus.

      The only extensive experience these so called executives have is ensuring a multi-million dollar contract and enough loopholes that they cannot be held responsible for punching more holes in an already sinking ship.

      Extensive experience in taking the reigns and leading a company to real growth and profits, rather than share price manipulation, yeah, not so much

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Funnily enough...

        Reigns is what royalty do.

        Reins steer a horse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Funnily enough...

          and Rains is when IBM HR piss on your career

          1. GuldenNL

            Re: Funnily enough...

            Aha! So Prince was singing about IBM executives pissing on careers after a huge party in wine country.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Funnily enough...

          It's still raining here.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Funnily enough...

      Well some of my C-suite now look like young pups to me. However, nothing seems likely to convince them that a cost of living payrise has merit, even as they vote themselves 150% "long-term incentive plans" every year.

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Funnily enough...

      Exactly what I was thinking and just about to post. Isn't it convenient that the dinobaby management

      https://www.ibm.com/investor/governance/senior-leadership

      calls out the "dinobaby" workers, as long as the C-suite Walking Dead continue to collect their bonuses?

    4. WokeUpThisMorning

      Re: Funnily enough...

      Nor does it apply to the incompetent managers brought in to select, "set up" high performing employees (some of which were asked to pick people to lay off but either refused bc they had a conscience or retired). The real story still hasn't been told. The employees doing the layoffs were also "dinobabies," & sold their souls, destroyed families, just to get promoted (the reward).

  3. DeathSquid

    IBM's history of aiding the Nazis implement the Holocaust provides historical context. This company has always been sociopathic, so it is no surprise they continue to abuse people and cause suicides. Business as usual.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      I'm no particular IBM fan, having been on the sharp end of one of their rebalancing exercises a few years back. Nonetheless, your comment is imbecilic. Reg rules forbid me from posting what I want to here, but suffice to say it comprises a 2 word answer involving sex and travel.

      1. gerdesj Silver badge
        Gimp

        Err you'll find that el Reg are pretty permissive provided you don't cross a -ism or -ist boundary. Ideally you should deploy f bombs with style and panache.

        If you haven't been here long enough, look up Mr Trevor Potts from our Canadian parish for some delightful examples of the art along with some that frankly ... aren't. He's not the origin of the term "potty mouth" but he certainly maintained standards.

        Let 'er rip.

      2. DeathSquid

        The fact that you feel the need to call me names rather than address any error in my statement says it all.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      So IBM had global sales offices and sales all over Europe of tabulating machinery? The sort of stuff that's widely used in accounting, stock keeping, personnel management and other business related activities?

      The evil behind the Holocaust was not the event per se but it was regarded as just another logistics exercise, just a matter of organizing a flow of work materials from source to final disposition -- "The Banality of Evil". The fact that IBM card punches would have been used to manage this just reflects the era and has absolutely nothing to do with IBM, past, present or future.

      1. DeathSquid

        It was rather more than a global sales office. You might wan to read this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Pretty much everyone here has read that. You might think you’re bringing new information to the table; you’re not. It’s totally irrelevant to the case at hand.

          1. NoneSuch Silver badge
            Go

            "Pretty much everyone here has read that. You might think you’re bringing new information to the table; you’re not. It’s totally irrelevant to the case at hand."

            Well, it is Wikipedia. Tell me what new info you want in there and I will happily edit it for you.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          And today, you'll find that people who want to commit atrocities use computers and software to measure it. I'm sure the Russian military has several Excel spreadsheets detailing people to receive more than the standard level of war crimes. North Korea prefers Linux to Windows, so they're using a different system to store their records, but I can virtually guarantee they've got one. The point is that you can't blame a spreadsheet for a genocide. IBM sold equipment to evil people. There's no question about that. The machinery was used to implement a wave of death and destruction, again undeniable. Had they not done so, things would have been less efficient, but the genocidal goals of the Nazis would not have changed. This is also irrelevant to charges of age discrimination today because the people running the company, the things the company does, and the allegations are in all cases different.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was rather hoping that having her husband suicide would've made her refuse to settle and take it all the way to open court out of spite.

    the judge asserts there's little value in making those documents available as they won't serve to help the public assess the court's function ...

    I think we are able to quite accurately assess the courts function.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      "the judge asserts there's little value in making those documents available as they won't serve to help the public assess the court's function ..."

      I am guessing that the judge is constrained by certain laws and/or procedural rules that determine whether they can officially release this data (eg based on the wording, that docs can only be released if they "help the public assess the court's function"). Because there IS absolutely a huge public interest value in releasing the documents!

      Otherwise those IBM executive emails are ripe for a Wikileaks / Panama Papers-style release

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just asked my missus about this situation. She reckons she'd just take the money. Which is good, because I'd want her to take the money and not faff around in court for years.

      1. Plest Silver badge

        Sounds a little callous. I think my wife would prefer I was around to be with her and we'd just do what we've alwasy done when trouble looms, muddle through like we have together for the last 30 years. I've had times when I've genuinely stared into the "dark abyss" and thought things would be better without me "getting in the way", it's not a very nice place to stare into and no one ever should, I'm grateful I was able to find reasons to step back and one of those is my wife. My marriage has always be happy and based on, "shit will always happen but we've always got each other's back", it's just stuff outside it that crushes the soul.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Given how long things have been going on, the widowed wife, probably wanted to be able to move on. Whilst she (and the family) will probably continue to grieve and miss her late husband, she doesn't have to keep going to court and having to go back over the trauma.

          My wife settled a life-changing personal injury claim after 4 years, because the repeated medical consultations, court appearances and repeatedly going back over the accident was effectively putting her life on hold.

          1. steviebuk Silver badge

            Not to mention if it is a large payout which they tend to be in the US and tiny here in the UK, she may even use that money to benefit others in his name. I'm not saying that's what she should do, her husband no doubt would want her to be comfortable for the rest of her life and not ever have an arsehole company put her in the position he was in, but its something she might do. Waste of time going to court and just letting the lawyers get rich off the back of it.

            1. WokeUpThisMorning

              Not necessarily a large payout bc it wasn't a wrongful death lawsuit. In the case of a deceased employee, the estate sadly only gets back pay - no front pay, interest or damages that a person who is alive would get.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "My wife settled a life-changing personal injury claim after 4 years, because the repeated medical consultations, court appearances and repeatedly going back over the accident was effectively putting her life on hold."

            And, of course, even if you are determined to hold the offender to account, when the offender has deep pockets and REALLY doesn't want the information to come out in court, on the record, they will keep increasing the settlement amount until you go away. I hope, after those 4 years of added trauma, your wife got a much bigger settlement than she was likely offered at the start of the process.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              >you are determined to hold the offender to account... when the offender has deep pockets...

              The 'offender' died in the accident, so it was all about the insurance, who not only have deep pockets but an incentive to not payout.

              Lesson learnt, if you are talking about a potential 6+ figure settlement, expect the insurance company to play very dirty. [We ended up asking every medical expert which college they belonged to and the details of the people could block their career advancement, we then arranged consultations with these people so that the insurance company couldn't use them.]

              > I hope, after those 4 years of added trauma, your wife got a much bigger settlement than she was likely offered at the start of the process.

              She did, although it lost two zero's and avoided the publicity that tends to go with the larger settlements, it did allow her to move on and get pregnant - something the doctors had advised against. So whilst the accident changed her life, it didn't define her life and we have two teenagers :)

          3. Someone Else Silver badge

            My wife settled a life-changing personal injury claim after 4 years, because the repeated medical consultations, court appearances and repeatedly going back over the accident was effectively putting her life on hold.

            Funny how that works, innit? Almost as if it was designed that way....

            Heartfelt good wishes to your wife, AC, along with my hope she is doing well.

        2. katrinab Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Going to court wouldn't bring you back though.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            And could be ruinously expensive. Taking the deal is the right move here, and it's what I'd want my wife to do in a similar situation. Bankrupting yourself out of spite and ending up with IBM escaping largely unscathed – a real possibility – would do nothing for justice.

    3. TJ1
      Unhappy

      Lawyers decide

      I suspect the lawyers make the decision, not the complainant.

      If the case is taken on a contingent basis with no-win,no-fee then the lawyers get to decide. I doubt the complainant is paying the lawyers out-of-pocket for this.

      1. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Lawyers decide

        At least in the US, the client makes the ultimate decision to settle or not, of course the lawyer is permitted to advise one way or the other, but if a client is losing steam then it may be in the lawyer's interest to take whatever money is going.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Lawyers decide

          Same in the UK and, I suspect, in most jurisdictions. The client "instructs", the lawyer "advises".

    4. Ace2 Silver badge

      IANAL but in some contexts, if you refuse a settlement for $X but then win a judgement for <$X, you are responsible for the other side’s legal fees incurred since the settlement offer.

    5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      I was rather hoping that having her husband suicide would've made her refuse to settle and take it all the way to open court out of spite.

      The problem here is that civil court proceedings are the means to obtain restitution for damage done.

      When the defendant delivers that restitution, plus whatever costs for putting a claimant through the wringer, that's the end of it, job done.

      One can hold out for ever greater restitution but it's not possible to force the defendants to admit they are evil bastards. Civil action is the wrong vehicle to use.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This case wasn't a lawsuit or I'm sure the widow & attorneys wouldve advised her to take it all the way up. I'm sure there is much more to the story none of us are privy to. It wasn't a wrongful death lawsuit, although they probably would have preferred that. This was a motion to go to arbitration. According to the documents posted, the widow wanted a chance to arbitrate even though her husband signed the documents & it was past the 300 day filing limit. Good for her for getting the documents contents released. That in itself was a major feat. We all know it's Ginni Rometty & Diane Gherson who were behind the massive age discriminating layoffs. I guess it was either settle or take a chance the Judge would or would not allow her to move forward to arbitration where there's no guarantee the arbitrator would rule in her favor due to the statute of limitations. Arbitrators are also notorious for siding with corporations. IBM cares nothing about its employees. Cases like this one shows just how heinous IBM is. I hope the widow & her family find some peace & solace & can finally try to move forward.

      1. ForIBMers

        Current IBM Employee?

        Are you a current or previous IBM employee? I was recently RAed. The new approach to RAs are referred to as "redeployment initiatives", in the early stages. Employees are promised they will either find a job or get placed by IBM in a new role by a certain date. Of course, most don't find or get placed in new roles, particularly the older employees. My law firm had never heard of "redeployments" before and they have worked a lot of IBM age discrimination cases. I didn't know if the redeployments would continue or that was specific to just my group. I was recently contacted by a current IBM employee saying these redeployment initiatives are continuing. I'm trying to vet the information. Anyone else know of current "redeployments"? If you are in a redeployment, you will almost certainly be offered a severance after it becomes an RA. My group was offered one after about 10 weeks in the redeployment, but nobody knew for 10 weeks what was going to happen. The lack of transparency drove a lot of employees out earlier than they would have gone had they known severances would have been offered. I didn't accept the severance offer. They are guilty of age discrimination. When signing a severance you specifically sign off saying they have not committed age discrimination. And for 3 months severance I couldn't compromise my integrity.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IBM Settles

      In most, if not all, cases, when working with a law firm, you sign off letting them decide when to settle or move forward.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    If laws were broken, why isn't there any public inquiry against IBM? Aren't Prosecutors interested in defending people when a big company is involved?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      You are mixing at least three different things here.

      1. These cases proceed under civil law. The claimant only needs to succeed on the basis of balance of probability. Where the case is settled out of court, as these inevitably are, not even that is recorded. A settlement is not the same in terms of public record as the winning and losing of the case.

      2. A case under criminal law requires proof beyond reasonable doubt which means a lot of evidence. You also need to think about how a criminal investigation gets launched. Usually it's as a result of somebody alleging a crime to the police. If IBM's ex-employees are looking fo a pay-out they're far better off doing the civil route and getting a settlement rather than the criminal route which gets them nothing except probably a civil counter-claim against them from IBM.

      In the absence of one or more complaints it might be possible that a public prosecutor could decide there's something to investigate; that might be more likely in the US than the UK. What would the charges be?

      And where does such a prosecutor's search for evidence start?

      Warrants to search IBM's records? In that case IBM's lawyers* are going to object and they'd tie the whole thing in knots in court for years amid growing complaints of the cost to public funds.

      With the plaintiffs in the civil cases? It would be very difficult to make a criminal case out of a situation where the parties have already settled and those that are still pending are trying to get the evidence they need for the lesser standard of proof - they wouldn't really be of much help to establish the greater. It would involve spending vast amounts of public money with very limited prospects of succeeding.

      A criminal case does not, as you seem to think, exist to provide civil redress. A successful prosecution might result in fines for the company, possibly jail time for execs. Aggrieved ex-employees would still need to sue if they hadn't died from old age while their evidence was still being fought over in the criminal case.

      3. A public inquiry is different again. It would only be instituted where something is of major public interest. Remember that "public interest" is not the same as "interesting to the public". If IBM were losing case after case in the civil courts that might, just possibly, raise sufficient of a public scandal and IBM isn't going to allow that to happen, not if they can keep settling.

      * It might help to think of IBM as a law firm with an IT operation attached.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You're right, but it's wrong.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Aren't Prosecutors interested in defending people when a big company is involved?

      Short answer: No.

      Longer answer: Where do you think campaign contributions come from?

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "There is not now any public interest in access to documents that might form the basis of a judicial decision,"

    Is that final? I suppose some of the litigants whose cases are now pending might challenge it.

    1. MrBanana Silver badge

      It is final for each individual case. IBM absolutely do not want anything made public, and will fight every case with a payoff, in order to silence the plaintiff and tie the court up with documents that cannot be released. Otherwise any public evidence would open the gates for all the other cases.

      As ex-IBM I would have no qualms in telling them to stick their money and go for broke in court, with full disclosure. I wonder just how much the payoff is that no-one has yet done this.

      1. Sam Liddicott

        In a civil case you are going to court with a claim for damages.

        if they offer to settle for your demanded claim, how will you still go to court? By rejecting their offer and then demanding the same amount?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "As ex-IBM I would have no qualms in telling them to stick their money and go for broke in court, with full disclosure. I wonder just how much the payoff is that no-one has yet done this."

        I wonder how much IBM have saved by firing all these older workers and how much all the "settlements" and legal fees have cost them? What will happen when the process moves into the deficit column?

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          Yup. It's all fun and games until the stock price is affected...

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. martinusher Silver badge

    Seems there's some belief in Voodoo here

    It was reported recently that mouse blood can affect the apparent age of a subject mouse depending on the age the blood was drawn from. A bit of trivia, probably nonsense, but it buys into the belief that the only way to revive an old company is to infuse young blood into it. Sounds reasonable but its just not true.

    IBM have made many useful developments over the years but not all of this work was done by 20 somethings. (I recall that the father of a girlfriend I had back in the late 60s worked at Hursley on "Winchester" drives, for example.) The company isn't noted for its start-up, risk taking, culture so its unlikely that it would welcome such people; at best its going to get taken by one or more smooth talking huckster who can promise the Earth and leave for better opportunities before the ordure hits the air moving device. They should stick to what they do best -- slow, steady, boring and predictable.

  9. steviebuk Silver badge

    IBM are...

    ...a shadow of their former self.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM are...

      ...or maybe an echo...

  10. Nifty Silver badge

    So having been fired from IBM as part of a brazen 'rebalancing' drive...

    Found new horizons and very glad of it, while drawing a pension in parallel my current job. And me with probably a lower IQ than the average nerd.

    The squeeze on finding staff who can spell 'IT' is only set to get worse. The last laugh will be at the expense of the C-suite.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crowdsource time

    Supporting a claimant through crowd sourcing so they can't lose either way ought to do it.

  12. ArtFart

    Methinks it's time to stick a couple more pins in my Tom Peters voodoo doll...

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