Former IBM Employee Moves to Vacate Age-Related Discrimination Decision After ‘Smoking Gun’ Evidence Comes to Light

On Tuesday, a Massachusetts woman asked for vacatur of an arbitration award handed down in response to her claims that her former employer, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), illegally fired her because of her age. The heavily redacted petition says that evidence unearthed in other IBM age discrimination cases shows intent and warrants vacatur so that the arbitrator can appraise the newly obtained evidence.

The case against IBM is one of several taking on the company over its purported workforce-wide policy of pushing out older employees in favor of younger ones in order to better compete with companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. A class action, spearheaded by the same plaintiff’s counsel, Lichten & Liss-Riordan P.C., is proceeding in federal court for the right to arbitrate the former employees’ claims free from allegedly restrictive clauses IBM inserted limiting the claims period and preventing evidence sharing between cases.

This week’s petition notes that previously, the Boston, Mass. court declined the petitioner’s invitation to undo the arbitration award in a November 2021 order. It claims that in September 2021 however, petitioner’s counsel became aware of a collection of documents, that in the words of another federal “on their face appear to show an effort to remove older employees in favor of younger employees.”

These documents reportedly included emails between IBM’s highest level executives referring to older workers as “dinobabies” and discussing that they needed to become an “extinct species.” 

Documents in another recent case out of New Jersey state court reportedly revealed that IBM’s former CEO and former Senior Vice President for Human Resources participated in communications that discussed ways for the company to increase its proportion of millennials while using several methods to push out older workers.

In light of the new evidence, the petitioner argues that the court should vacate the arbitration award and remand for further proceedings.