Cohen Milstein and co-counsel, Johnson, Webbert & Young and Gibbs Law Group, are representing hundreds of former employees of IBM Corporation in a series of age discrimination lawsuits against the tech giant before the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

All of the Claimants and Plaintiffs bringing these lawsuits were over age of 40 when they were terminated by IBM, beginning in 2013, through mass layoffs that IBM called “Resource Actions.”  In total, these plaintiffs are just a few hundred of the over 20,000 IBM employees over the age of 40 who have been discharged from IBM since 2013.

Case Background

Claimants and Plaintiffs claim that IBM devised and implemented company-wide policies and practices to effectuate its discriminatory scheme to replace older workers with younger workers, including: (a) directing its managers to lower performance evaluation scores for older workers in order to provide a purported basis on which to select those workers for termination via Resource Actions; (b) exempting or protecting from layoff “early professionals” and recent college graduates, who are much younger than the average IBM employee; and (c) taking affirmative steps to keep its workforce and the public in the dark about its discriminatory practices, including falsely classifying Resource Action terminations as retirements or performance-based terminations.

To further cover up its unlawful mass layoffs of older workers and insulate its actions from legal challenge, IBM ended its longstanding practice, dating back to at least 2001, of providing employees ages 40 and older who were chosen for layoffs with comparator information that would reveal if older workers were being disproportionately selected for termination.

The distinction between these AAA and court disputes is procedural. The 200 Claimants pursuing their individual claims against IBM before AAA had all signed IBM’s arbitration agreement. The 50 Plaintiffs, who are pursuing almost identical claims before the Southern District of New York in the consolidated case: In re Second Wave IBM Arbitration Agreement Litigation, 21-CV-9574, had not signed IBM’s arbitration agreement.

The EEOC conducted a lengthy and in-depth investigation of the complaints of some of these former IBM employees. Based on its analysis of statistical data and “corroborating testimony from dozens of witnesses nationwide,” the EEOC found “reasonable cause to believe that [IBM] has discriminated against” these older IBM workers because of their age.

The EEOC further found that termination of employees like Plaintiffs through group layoffs between 2013 and 2018 was part of a systemic and long-term plan devised by top management to replace older workers with younger career hires.

On November 24, 2021, the 50 Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, challenging IBM’s systematic replacement of its older employees with much younger workers through “Resource Actions,” in violation of the ADEA.

Individual case name: Roberts, et al. v. IBM, Case No. 7:21-cv-09928-UA, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Consolidated case name: In re Second Wave IBM Arbitration Agreement Litigation, 21-CV-9574.