IBM has settled an age discrimination case brought by the widow of a sales executive who committed suicide after being fired.
Denise Lohnn and Big Blue reached a tentative settlement on March 31, and U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman stayed the case pending a decision on whether to release sensitive documents at the heart of the litigation. On Monday, the court dismissed the case as settled.
Strangely enough, this agreement was negotiated about a month after unsealing of partially redacted internal IBM communications denigrating older Big Blue employees as “dinobabies” and calling for their extinction from the company [PDF].
Other document [PDF] discussed IBM’s “outdated maternal workforce” and called for that to change. It also called on IBM to “shift the workforce mix toward a larger percentage of early professional hires.”
The emergence of those court filings in February prompted Nickle LaMoreaux, IBM’s chief human resources officer, to deny that IBM was systematically trying to lay off older employees, as numerous lawsuits have alleged.
Discrimination of any kind is totally against our culture
“Discrimination of any kind is totally against our culture and who we are at IBM, and there was (and is) no systemic ageism at our company,” LaMoreaux said in a public statement posted on the company’s website that sparked skepticism in internal employee interviews.
Many lawsuits have argued the opposite – based on the plaintiffs’ claims, on a Report March 2018 by ProPublica and Mother Jones, which outlined a company-wide plan to de-age IBM, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) finding in 2020 that IBM executives had encouraged managers to shed older workers while squeezing younger ones set.
As in the Lohnn case, if IBM can’t get a judge to dismiss the age discrimination claims early, the tech giant will eventually seemingly settle to avoid a public trial that could uncover potentially damaging documents.
Langley vs. IBM settled in 2020, after that a court order Forward emails from executives. It did Schenfeld versus IBMeven after an order to hand over board e-mails. Iacano vs. IBM, Keebaugh vs. IBMand Van De Weghe v IBMany age discrimination claims, also settled [PDFs].
In 2019 IBM agreed a deal with 281 out of 285 people in the UK filing age discrimination claims.
Another 26 people in the US who claimed IBM discriminated against them because of their age were not allowed in June from participating in an ongoing class action lawsuit, Russis against IBMbecause they previously signed an arbitration agreement with Big Blue.
IBM board of directors is investigating allegations of falsified sales figures that led to high executive bonuses
On Monday in the Lohnn case, in cooperation with Lohnn and IBM, both agreed end their litigation [PDF]Judge Liman issued an opinion and order addressing whether the statements and exhibits filed during the litigation remain sealed or are accessible with limited redactions.
Since the court will not rule on the dispute between the two parties, which has now been settled, the judge claims that there is little value in making these documents available, as they will not help the public to assess the functioning of the court Article III the US Constitution.
“There is currently no public interest in access to documents that could form the basis of a court decision,” the judge wrote in his opinion [PDF]and adds that the court also has a reciprocal interest in disclosing it to promote a settlement.
For the time being, the interested public must be satisfied with the blackened text that appeared in February.
Or almost. There was a court record [PDF] in the Schenfeld case, who described email evidence related to the “Dinobies” email cited in the Lohnn case. It identified the email’s author and said that former IBM CEO Ginny Rometty and former SVP of Human Resources Diane Gherson were involved in discussions that “revealed an interest at the CEO level at the time, the profile of IBM.” -Change employees to reflect a younger workforce.”
IBM did not respond to a request for comment. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/08/16/ibm_dinobabies_case_settled/ IBM ‘Dinobies’ case settled, evidence remains defaced • The Register