back to article Laid-off 60-year-old Kyndryl exec says he was told IT giant wanted 'new blood'

An age discrimination claim filed on behalf of a former Kyndryl global software director against IBM and its spinoff has been amended to include similar allegations from a business development executive who also worked at both IT giants. Tony DeGruccio – who served IBM for 22 years before moving to Kyndryl in September 2021, …

  1. TVU Silver badge

    "Tony DeGruccio – who served IBM for 22 years before moving to Kyndryl in September 2021, when IBM spun out its Global Technology Services (GTS) group – was let go at the age of 60. DeGruccio has joined the litigation, claiming he too was asked to leave due to his age".

    Good, and I hope that he and his fellow litigants win their case and that it teaches IBM and other large enterprises not to behave badly when it comes to trying to make people redundant.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Nothing teaches IBM.

      1. James Anderson

        It still makes financial sense. Replace older western based employees whose benefits reflect a time when profits were easily come by, with younger cheaper asian employees who don't get pensions, bonuses medical etc.

        So what if you have to settle a few law suits.

        The only down side is your customers get hacked off being charged top dollar for inexperienced employees, but, as you customers already hate you .....

    2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Less-Fortunate Purgees

      Yes, I hope Mr. DeGruccio and others win their case, but I more-strongly feel for all the other purgees who have no usable evidence with which to prove any case they might bring. Lacking such evidence, those purgees probably will not sue.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Less-Fortunate Purgees

        They will also most likely lack the money to sue even if they do have evidence.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK Threshold = 50......US Threshold A Bit Different........

    Quote: '"It's very difficult to prove that age is a factor," said X.'

    Well, well, well..... But how about "total remuneration package" as a factor:

    - Salary

    - Bonus

    - Cost to employer of health insurance (might be related to age?)

    - Cost to employer of pension contribution (might be related to salary?)

    - ....and so on....

    As a random data point from the past, in the UK big consulting organisations were thought to be pushing senior people out the door when those people reached their 50's, possibly because of salary.

    My experience in the US is that this is much less common -- mainly because US employers are interested in a different measure, namely "What can you do for me today?".....irrespective of age or salary!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK Threshold = 50......US Threshold A Bit Different........

      >>My experience in the US is that this is much less common

      On the other hand, when younger/cheaper are available, then my experience has been that older persons are likely to be edged out... somehow.

      Seems that since COVID, ageism may have lessened in certain occupations but I suspect any such trend will be temporary.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: UK Threshold = 50......US Threshold A Bit Different........

        Seems that since COVID, ageism may have lessened in certain occupations but I suspect any such trend will be temporary.

        In the US at least the reason for this temporary trend would be that unemployment hasn't been lower since Eisenhower was in office, so finding those younger/cheaper workers to replace the older employees isn't as easy as it used to be.

  3. Azamino

    Let it go

    By letting the guy go they are probably doing him a favour,

    For the love of Gaia, once you have accrued an adequate pension pot go and do something more interesting. You will be happier and it creates room for the younger generation to get ahead too.

    1. xyz Silver badge

      Re: Let it go

      Rats... I did the link and I was hoping for time off for bad behaviour. I'm going to be stuck here forever.

    2. Skiver

      Re: Let it go

      Nobody is being done a favor by getting fired.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let it go

        I sat in a job I hated and delayed retirement for a couple of years in the hope of being made redundant a.k.a. fired. In the end I gave up and retired. Had I waited another year everyone was made redundant.

      2. jglathe

        Re: Let it go

        This depends a little, funny as that is. But this is how it should be.

      3. CommonBloke

        Re: Let it go

        > Nobody is being done a favor by getting fired.

        Except for shareholders' profits. Won't somebody please think of the profits!?

    3. Handlebars

      Re: Let it go

      You have no idea what would make him happier, nor whether he has an adequate pension pot because you know nothing about him personally.

    4. Why Not?

      Re: Let it go

      Hey if the young can't compete on their own merits you need special treatment?

    5. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Let it go

      "once you have accrued an adequate pension pot"

      You are having a fucking laugh, aren't you?

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Let it go

      Some of us are capable of being interested in our labors. Not everyone is you.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Why not tell the truth?

    They didn't fire him for being old, they fired him cos he was expensive and they could get cheaper young staff.

    Why not just say, we're dumping all the more expensive employees?

    Being well paid isn't a protected class and Wall st would love it

    1. David Black

      Re: Why not tell the truth?

      Except it is. Policies that discriminate directly (you are too old, f'off) or indirectly (everyone with grandkids, f'off) are seen as identical in both the UK and US. Actually indirect discrimination tends to come with higher punitive fines in the US as you are seen to be knowingly trying to subvert the legislation as opposed to just breaching it. Before any significant layoffs are planned, you do need to assess the impact across all the major classes of employee too.

      They are just walking into the lawsuits which makes it pretty clear that they decided want this publicity (deters older applicants, sends a signal to older current workforce that they'll come get them so they might want to self-shuffle out) to act as a signpost of their values, a bit like institutional racism does wonders to reduce diversity of applicants.

      1. Skiver

        Re: Why not tell the truth?

        This kind of well considered, nuanced perspective will, sadly, fall on deaf ears.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why not tell the truth?

        >Policies that discriminate directly ... or indirectly

        But it's a lot easier to justify in court.

        "The salary cap for role X is now $Y" - this might discminate against older workers who are paid $2Y. But it's a lot easier to defend that this was a purely economic decision rather than we fired A,B,C for 'performance' and they happened to all be >50 and were all paid $2Y but we pretend that wasn't an issue

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not tell the truth?

      Well, I for one am being dumped from the American account I managed for 9 years because I'm too expensive for Kyndryl. New resources are being allocated from India, and in fewer numbers. I'm on my late 40s, and it seems I won't get anything but bench time until they finally let me go.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Why not tell the truth?

        Well if you still have access to your office etc., help yourself and colleagues by doing a quick survey of your department/site and get everyone to give you their age and whether they expect to be attending the company Xmas party (or some other event that is for employees post the end of the redundancy period.

        Then send this to the lawyers representing those laid off.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So 35 is deemed to be "peak usefulness" according to IBM's own propaganda?. Who makes this stuff up?

    Keep young and beautiful if you want to be loved (or employed)!

  6. Someone Else Silver badge


    It's unclear why a business with internal data about the age of its employees would choose not to publish that information, when doing so might help prevent or resolve allegations of age discrimination.

    Really? D'ya think it might likely be because doing so won't help prevent or resolve allegations of age discrimination?

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm...

      One of the reasons to love The Register is because they pick out the obvious flaws in the target's logic, but then couch it in the most understated language.

  7. ColinPa

    I wonder how old the executives are, how expensive they are, and how many are being let go.

    Do they fit into the profile for being let go?

    1. Mayday Silver badge

      Re: I wonder how old the executives are, how expensive they are, and how many are being let go.

      Of course not. They need to be around to make these “difficult decisions”

  8. yetanotheraoc Silver badge


    "an average workforce age of 35"

    They removed that because it's not true. The average workforce age is 33.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Curiously

      down to 32 this week, expected to fall down next week

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Curiously

      Yeah, boasting about the wide range and depth of skills in a mainframe business (or any business, for that matter) and then stating the average age of employees is so young doesn't really jibe well to most potential clients. Decades of corporate experience means nothing if the clients get fobbed off with kids with little experience :-)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a sad old fart, you're not paying me for what the skills I possess. You pay for my abilities to not crash out under pressure 'cos I've been clocked into way too many firefights in my time. I don't shit my pants 'cos something's not working, I just fall back on my tried and tested method of going back to simple principles and working logically instead of panicking and screming for a P1 every time I can't get something working. My kids have left home so I got all the time in the world and nothing to rush home for, my missus is so used to me calling home saying I'll be late and rolling home at 8am the next morning after a night in the office stuck at a keyboard. I've seen way too many ridiculous situations and so many dumb ass things people will do, that nothing much surprises me anymore, water off a duck's back.

    Still if you want a bunch of 20 somethings that always jump in with both feet, panic at every situation, constantly bang on about how they feel about shit instead of getting on with work, shit their pants everytime an issue gets to P2 let alone a P1, then you go ahead but don't expect a smooth running operation, expect a kindergarten with a lot of screaming toddlers. Yes the youngsters are well meaning and trying their best but you got rid of all the old guys and gals and no there's no mentors to teach young people how to stay calm and keeping working on through.

    Still they're young, desperate and that means you get 'em dirt cheap. You can burn them out before they become useful and throw them on the scrap heap before 5 years are up, just before the benefits start to crank up.

    1. eionmac

      Age Paid Well

      The company retired some folks. We left. Hired younger ones to do job. Big problems as no 'experience under fire'. One year later asked us to come back. Some charged about 3 times the previous salary. (No problem to pay that now!), we then stayed until we wanted to leave.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm very similar to you. I was that youngster and it was fun at first, then became a chore. It's taken a while to work out how to not stress. As you say, the only reason you don't panic is because of the many, many firefights and too many people who are unencumbered with the thought process.

    3. Bump in the night

      old and young

      very good point. I just retired after 30 years at the same place. I wasn't necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed, but started noticing those same characteristics in my organization as I got closer to leaving. I reflected on the younger times as exactly that -- desperate and emotional.

      A healthy mix of young and old is probably the best.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Then IBM decided to increase the cloud costs, the licensing pricing, overnight."

    No - those bastards had it planned all along. They weren't making money on a lot of the contracts because IBM usually went in with loss-lead bids with the intention of selling more IBM crap or making up the money charging for project work (high cost but done by cheap labour - it was more often than not a total shit-show). The software/hardware IBM shoe-horned in (regardless of whether it was any good or not) was heavily discounted (as is the case with most big companies - no-one ever pays list price).

    Of course GTS struggled to make money - it was crippled from day 1.

    Post spin-off, IBM waited long enough (having novated contracts that lumbered Kyndryl with the burden of cost), they upped their prices substantially overnight. It fell to Kyndryl to either eat the cost or pass it on to the customer. Either way, Kyndryl got screwed.

    The customers who didn't want to cough up the additional cost are walking away. That obviously decreases the customer base, and, depending on the size of the account, leaves people searching for other accounts to work on - they go onto the bench. You can only stay there so long.

    IBM were never Kyndryl's friend (despite the rhetoric at the time).

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Does anyone know exactly what Kyndral is? Did IBM sell off an entire division and if so, to who? How much debt has it been lumbered with? Or did they just cut a division loose, give it a new name, but it's still owned by IBM and part of the "IBM Group" with the IBM board still ultimately in control but with debt "outsourced"?

      1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        It is its own company, spun off from IBM. It is traded on the stock exchange as KD. My guess would be that IBM scraped all its crap into one division and spun it off, and when/if it fails they will shake their heads and say what a shame.

        Incidentally, it's not uncommon for spinoffs to keep using parts of the old company. A recent spinoff from my own company is now leasing access to our trouble ticketing system, and presumably are evaluating new ticketing systems.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    don't worry

    old people at the C-level were not included in the layoffs, although removing 1 or 2 of them would have liberated enough cash to buy Twitter at the current market value...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No outsider has voice in IBM or Kyndryl, the dinosaurs remain in power!

    IBM and Kyndryl think that bringing younger people will solve their inability to adapt, but the top management won't give up their decades of career building. Just see what happened to Red Hat's former CEO Jim, who was brought supposedly to renew IBM, but was later sacked by the guys who are only worried with their own careers

  13. Robert 22

    Perhaps they will spin this as the new and improved early retirement program.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Took voluntary early retirement

    The writing was on the wall.

    The final straw was the threatened introduction of “hot desking”.

    No reason was given why, it was just a thing the young consultants thought was [insert mumbo jumbo here]

  15. jlturriff

    Heh. If their employees' average age is 35, maybe they're climbing on the bandwagon of other US businesses that are recruiting child labour. :-)

  16. Trigun

    If the average age is 50-55 instead of 35, then I can see why a company would be worried about that: You need younger people to be coming up through the system and no to have all upper positions clogged up. However.

    If you're going to ask people to step aside, then be up front, honest and make it both voluntary and lucrative for older people to exit and perhaps retire.

    Don't simply dump people on the heap of obselence once you've used up thier younger years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you’re aged 50-55 then you’ve still got 10 or so years left to retirement. Are employers expecting 35 year olds to stick around for much longer than 10 years? From what I’m seeing very few people these days stick in jobs for longer than 8 years, so I don’t see what the value is in employers getting rid of old staffers and replacing with younger staffers. By age 35 they should have a decent resume and be expecting the same salary as a 50 year old anyway. The only reason for getting rid of staff is to offshore the work. That’s where the cost savings are.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "By age 35 they should have a decent resume and be expecting the same salary as a 50 year old anyway." I have been in the industry for 20 years (in the UK) and I can honestly say that this is not how my career panned out. At the age of 35 I was stuck in a dead end NHS Desktop support role, Starved of training or qualifications and there was no clear career path, other than waiting to fill dead-mens boots. The rent always has to be paid. I think you are very lucky, related to someone who is already high up in whatever company/institution you work at (and probably academic) if you manage to have a decent resume by the age of 35 and commanding a decent salary. Again, this was not the path my career took, and I have a feeling it's the same for plenty of other hardened IT engineers (who do the REAL work).

    2. localzuk Silver badge

      Age is entirely irrelevant to the running of the business though. You can have someone in their 60s with great ideas, great drive and who grows the business, and you can have a 25 year old who is just after a pay packet.

      The idea that people should just be aged out of the business "voluntarily" or not is simply discrimination.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >”You can have someone in their 60s with great ideas, great drive and who grows the business”

        My third sector clients take on over 50’s. Yes the pay isn’t the same as the job they departed from, but that effectively drives a local recruitment policy, so benefit includes reduced commuting, more flexible working, less pressure and an organisation that appreciates their knowledge and skills.

        I was glad back in the 1980s to witness some of the age discrimination that went on and the movement of retirement age to (effectively) 70, made a career decision: plan for a major drop in income post 50 and possible career change.

        Seems this is probably still good advice today.

  17. Grogan Bronze badge

    "Young blood" doesn't have seniority, or tenure... I think that's the real reason these companies want to get rid of the old blood. Lower salaries, smaller benefit packages and also, fewer objections to doing things more stupidly to save money.

  18. CujoDeSoque

    You're overlooking one of the drivers.

    These guys are no different from IBM, everything is geared for the quarter numbers and stock options. It's all about making the number for this quarter and maybe the next one. I'm not convinced Kyndryl is a technical organization as they've tried to claim. From what I see they are still a sales organization. The only engineering I'm seeing is financial.

  19. localzuk Silver badge

    "an algorithm was used to identify those who would lose their jobs"

    If $employee.age > 35 then Terminate($employee)

  20. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    Well This Sux

    Just come out of a town hall where we were told being transferred\to re-apply for our jobs at Kyndryl.

    I'm partaking of a few of these tonight.

  21. Combat Epistomologist


    > "It's unclear why a business with internal data about the age of its employees would choose not to publish that information, when doing so might help prevent or resolve allegations of age discrimination."

    Unless, of course, they already knew that it would be highly incriminating...

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