Former IBM staffers have levelled fresh age discrimination accusations against IBM, saying the company continued widely-condemned intentions to cull older employees through its spinoff company Kyndryl.
MaryKathryn Doheny and Tony DeGruccio – both over the age of 60 –brought a class action lawsuit against the two firms last month, alleging Kyndryl “was not acting independently” when it sacked them, and other employees, “but rather was executing IBM’s plan to continue to attempt to reduce the employment of older workers”.
Former IBM staffers have levelled a suite of age discrimination cases against the tech giant in the wake of a 2018 ProPublica expose claiming IBM had deliberately cut its older employees in favour of a younger workforce it thought was more capable of competing in emerging technology markets.
Many of those cases were settled out of court.
Internal emails made public during a case brought forward by the wife of a man who killed himself after losing his job at IBM showed executives describe older workers as “dinobabies” who needed to be made “extinct”.
The latest case brought against IBM alleges it tried to shift discriminatory practices onto Kyndryl, an enterprise infrastructure business spun out of IBM in 2021.
Doheny and DeGruccio both had long careers at IBM (23 and 21 years respectively) before being shifted onto Kyndryl in 2021 and subsequently fired in ‘Resource Actions’ – the same term IBM used during previous layoffs.
In fact, the claim says, Kyndryl used the same human resource documents as IBM down to “the same language, font, and spacing”.
“It is clear that IBM has been involved in, and is behind, Kyndryl’s continuation of IBM’s discriminatory layoffs,” the complaint said.
Speaking to his manager after being laid off, DeGruccio was told not to bother looking for other jobs within the company because Kyndryl was looking for “new blood”.
“This advice was confirmed for him, as Mr DeGruccio witnessed older employees being summarily rejected for positions for which they were qualified, without so much as an interview, while Kyndryl actively sought to place younger employees in other open positions,” the complaint said.
A Kyndryl spokesperson has told the Register that the plaintiffs and law firm in this suit “are serial lawsuit filers and headline hunters who have filed a complaint that is riddled with disingenuous inaccuracies,” adding that the company “will defend itself vigorously”.
IBM and Kyndryl have successfully sought an extension to respond to the complaint and are required to submit their response by 30 June.
Last year, IBM’s chief human resources officer Nickle LaMoreaux published a memo to all IBM staff seeking to address the ongoing age discrimination claims.
“IBM's workforce strategy has always been shaped by one core principle: having the right skills at the right levels in the right jobs to support our clients,” she said.
“It has never been driven by the age of any individual or group of employees.”