Making dinobabies extinct: IBM’s push for a smaller workforce

Likewise, an EEOC letter summarizing its investigation of IBM found that older workers made up more than 85 percent of the group the company deemed candidates for layoffs, although the agency did not specify what it considered “older.”

Newly disclosed documents indicate that IBM sought to implement its strategy in several ways, including a policy that “early professional hiring” cannot be included in mass layoffs in an employee’s first 12 months at the company. An internal email states, “We’re not making the progress we need to make demographics, squandering our investment in talent acquisition and training.”

The lawsuit also argues that IBM sought to eliminate older workers by requiring them to move to a different part of the country to keep their jobs, assuming most would refuse to move. One internal email stated that “the typical relocation acceptance rate is 8-10%,” while another said the company would need to find work for those who agreed, suggesting there was no business justification for asking employees to relocate.

And while IBM employees appointed for layoffs have officially been allowed to apply for open positions within the company, other evidence included in the new disclosure indicates that the company has actually discouraged managers from hiring them. For example, according to the Statement of Material Facts, managers had to seek approval from corporate headquarters if they wanted to proceed with the appointment.

It appears that several of the plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit brought by Ms. Lees-Riordan were on the receiving end of these practices. One of them, Edvin Roses, joined IBM in 2003 and worked as a Solution Manager. The company informed him in March 2018 that he would be laid off in a few months. According to his legal complaint, Mr. Rousses applied for five internal positions after learning of his impending dismissal but heard nothing in response to any of his requests.

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Pratt, the company’s spokesperson, said the company’s efforts to protect recent layoffs from layoffs, as well as its approach to worker relocation, have been blind, and that many workers set for layoffs have secured new jobs with IBM.

A ProPublica story from 2018 identified employees in similar situations, and others who were asked to move out of state and decided to leave the company instead.

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