back to article IBM is trying to throttle my age-discrimination lawsuit – axed ace cloud salesman

A former high-flying IBM salesman yesterday accused the American mainframe megalith of using "obstructionist" legal tactics to block disclosure of incriminating documents that would help him win a landmark age discrimination lawsuit. Jonathan Langley filed a lawsuit against IBM in May this year claiming that its pro- …

  1. Jemma Silver badge

    American companies...

    Treating employees (and the greater part of the human race (see pfoa)) like second hand shit?

    I think that is a perfect example of what Lord Vetinari might in an unguarded moment refer to as "olds".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: American companies...

      First hand shit is bad enough .... but '2nd hand' !!!???

      Not too sure of the source of this or how it becomes '2nd hand' ..... don't want to know really !!!

      :) ;)

      [I do know what you meant but could not resist :) ]

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: American companies...

        Think "humancentipad" with Brazilian girls..

        Or

        I didn't know Cadburys* did a fudge & sweetcorn bar...

        *If you've never been to the Cadburys factory at Bournville (I think it is) be prepared for a shock - the stench of chocolate can actually make you feel ill (it's like walking into an invisible wall of choco-stink) - and the surrounding area is still 'dry' - you can't buy alcoholic beverages because the Cadburys family were & possibly still are Quakers. So whereas the rest of Birmingham died from cirrhosis and/or "whatever-you-were-employed-as-lung"- the people in the area around the factory invented Diabetes single handed.

      2. eldakka Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: American companies...

        Not too sure of the source of this or how it becomes '2nd hand' ..... don't want to know really !!!

        If you do decide you want to know, look up 2 girls 1 cup (if you look it up on wikipedia it should be ok, but random search engine internet links are most likely NSFW), that will educate you on second hand shit.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: American companies...

          I strongly advice AGAINST wanting to know. Just... Don't. You're better off not knowing.

    2. John 104

      Re: American companies...

      @American Companies

      Yes, because it is only the American version of homo sapiens who run big greedy companies.

      Give us a break and stow your nationalistic prejudice.

  2. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Stop

    Nope

    Your Sub Heading: "Non-millennial claims Big Blue is hiding evidence of anti-greybeard HR policies"

    You cannot use the term 'greybeard' in this context. It refers to an individual with unmatched knowledge in a specific area, a wise one, a sage. They should be approached with respect, awe, and trepidation lest your stupid question reveal just how dangerously little you know.

    It does not mean that you are simply over 35.

    1. Gonzo wizard
      Trollface

      Re: Nope

      Urban dictionary dares to disagree with you I'm afraid. It even mentions that it is a meaning specifically applicable in an IT environment. See it here.

      - From your friendly greybeard (both definitions apply).

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope

      " You cannot use the term 'greybeard' in this context. It refers to an individual with unmatched knowledge in a specific area, a wise one, a sage. They should be approached with respect, awe, and trepidation lest your stupid question reveal just how dangerously little you know. "

      " It does not mean that you are simply over 35."

      Because I live in the same area where IBM operates, and I personally know a number of 'greybeards' affected, I disagree, mostly. (The ex-IBM'er I talked with at the Dollar Tree the other night couldn't have been a greybeard, she couldn't grow a beard.) The age discrimination is real and the ex-employees are all seething. The experience and knowledge that IBM is losing when they dismiss their older employees should be a warning flag to investors: IBM is losing its capability to maintain what they have sold to their customers. Stories abound of people training their younger replacements, then being laid off; being laid off and being re-hired as consultants; being laid off and being re-hired to train their replacements; and other assorted nonsense. But nothing will replace the cumulative business knowledge that is intentionally being thrown away.

      1. Semtex451 Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        @ Gonzo wizard - No mention of sales personnel but I guess I should go on the course 'Modn English 4 Greybeards'

        @ AC - I'm talking about the article, not what's happening at IBM which is despicable

      2. vir Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        "Stories abound of people training their younger replacements, then being laid off; being laid off and being re-hired as consultants; being laid off and being re-hired to train their replacements; and other assorted nonsense."

        Though maybe the "come back as a consultant for twice the pay and half the administrative BS" does have a bit of a nice ring to it. Good work if you can find it.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      I've Been Moved is run by PHBs who fail to realize you need a mix of people with varying levels of experience. The idea is the more experienced mentor often informally the young'ens. When the greyhairs do leave, the young'ens are now well trained and can take over without missing a beat.

      In my career, I have worked in a number of different industries in a number of different capacities. What I have noticed is no matter the position it takes a couple years or so for a new person to become fully competent at the position. Mostly because they do not know in which closet something is hidden or fully understand why something was done. This takes time to grasp. Experience will help come to speed a little more quickly as you probably have a better grasp of what is going than some PFY in their first job.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        I've Been Moved is run by PHBs who fail to realize you need a mix of people with varying levels of experience. The idea is the more experienced mentor often informally the young'ens. When the greyhairs do leave, the young'ens are now well trained and can take over without missing a beat.

        Also, as a general rule, the young'ens bring a level of enthusiasm (or lack of cynicism) to the role, along with a willingness to ask questions and innovate. The greyhairs can temper than enthusiasm, encourage an appropriate level of cynicism, answer the questions and filter and refine the innovations. A young/old (experienced/inexperienced) mix can result in a powerful team.

        Simply replacing all the BOFHs with PFYs if as much a recipe for disaster as not taking on any PFYs, just keeping the BOFHs...

  3. ivan5

    Why didn't he gather the information during the 3 months before he was shown the door? I assume he decided to sue them during that period in which case hi didn't get all his ducks in a row when he should have.

    1. LordHighFixer

      Why didn't he gather the information during the 3 months before he was shown the door?

      Simple, while he was an employee, if he had gathered information, and taken it off premises, he would have more than likely violated a company policy, and given them cause for his termination.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's a little uncharitable. I've been on the end of an IBM resource action and even though, by then, I welcomed it, I wasn't exactly thinking straight about next steps. He may have taken some time to establish that others of his age were being exited while younger professionals weren't then had to get advice on if it was actionable and decide if he wanted to take on the pain, heartache and risk of legal action.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why don't we just give these discovery requests to Watson? Certainly it know the answers quicker than the curiously dumbfounded IBM lawyers.

        "What's an employee handbook?", ...jeez

        1. Patched Out

          Employee Handbook

          Isn't that one of those documents that HR holds close to the vest and makes sure the last people that have access to it are the employees?

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Employee Handbook

            "Isn't that one of those documents that HR holds close to the vest and makes sure the last people that have access to it are the employees?"

            No, it's the one where they insist that you sign a bit of paper saying you've read it (in the three minutes allotted), and then make fifteen revisions to before the ink is dry on your signature.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Not quite

    Discovery (known in the rest of the common law world as disclosure)

    Discovery is quite different from disclosure.

    Discovery is "gimme all your sh*te within a mile radius of X,Y, Z. I will do a fishing expedition through it". The only way to limit it is to somehow negotiate a 3rd party to do the fishing expedition.

    Disclosure is "gimme items X, Y, Z which fit the following precise description".

    As a result, civil lawsuits in USA which does discovery cost an astronomical amount - you pay by the hour to lawyers, experts, etc to narrow down what can be looked at and what is admissible. They look at relatively "raw" material and thus can charge a very substantial number of hours. The mere process can bankrupt (and does so) Joe Average citizen and is a constant feeding through for large corporation lawyers who get most of their timesheets by fighting off disclosure requests or fighting for disclosure requests. As a side effect a lot of "private" corporate information ends up temporarily living in other people's hands - something UK parliament leveraged to everyone's advantage only a week or so ago.

    Compared to that the cost of a civil lawsuit in other countries is significantly lower and it is started only if the litigant is pretty confident that the opponent possess exhibits X, Y, Z requested in disclosure.

    1. ma1010 Silver badge

      Re: Not quite

      As often as not (probably more often) the side required to produce the information knows exactly what the other side is looking for, exactly what would help the other side make their case, and proceeds to bury it under as many tons of irrelevant crap as they possibly can in the hope the other side won't ever mange to find the "smoking gun memo."

      Sadly, this is standard legal tactics.

  5. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    #hardhustle

    It’s your fault with robots...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good start

    Langley's got himself some sharp lawyers there. If they continue the way they've been going IBM (and every other corporate behemoth that have been acting on Zuckerberg's arrogant, empty-headed, evidence-free assessment of the worth of post-millennial employees) is going to wind up with a precedent-setting case in front of 9 extremely post millennial justices.

    Let the games begin!

  7. cjcox

    IBM doesn't do "win - win" and they never lose

    That subject line is very true of IBM. They know every trick in the book and "paper wise" they own you, you just don't know it yet. Taking on IBM and winning... would love to see it. IMHO, if you think you have a shot, I'd buy some kevlar.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM doesn't do "win - win" and they never lose

      “They know every trick in the book”

      ...not the IT book from what I’ve seen. Maybe if your lawyers are good enough you don’t need anyone who knows IT. Until of course you have no customers left to pay for the lawyers.

  8. Valdemar Lemche

    That's why I left IBM

    My manager was completely upfront about this, and told me that my request to move to IBM Cloud was rejected by WW management because I was considered 'old hire' even though I wasnt even 40, and had not even been in IBM for 10 years at the time. Furtermore I heard from other of my former colleagues that they were told the same reason when they were denied transferring to other teams.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are not guilty...

    To IBM: if you are not guilty, why all the obfuscation? You have records to show that your layoffs are fair across age groups, right? And if you don't... how do you KNOW that they were fair? And if you dont know that they were fair, and if your company is pushing the millennial viewpoint like it is going to save you, then MAYBE your policies were, in fact, unfair and you don't even know it. So let the discovery begin.

  10. Frozit

    It doesn't really matter. IBM will no longer exist within 10? years. Think of all the other old school tech names that are gone. DEC, Digital, etc. Why should IBM be any different?

    Maybe HP will buy them.... (omg)

  11. egbegb

    It is a wonder there isn't a class action suit against IBM which would include most employees since before 2000. Age descrimination was pointed out to me by manager in 2004 or so.

  12. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    "unduly burdensome"

    Odd IBM would use the phrase "unduly burdensome" because when I was Blue, and we got audited by PWC we had 24 hours to stump up data or we failed audit. The idea that an internal publication such as a 'Staff Handbook' could be ambiguous is farcical, how many publications match that description?

    Meanwhile, age discrimination is exactly a thing at IBM. IBM make long serving staff redundant, and then hire graduates (in the UK at least) to work at 'Client Innovation Centres', but they aren't enrolled in the pension scheme, and get contracts just short of two years to prevent them getting employment rights. So these staff won't age in the workplace, they'll get replaced with fresh meat, for the most part.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course it's age discrimination !

    They're all doing it, IBM, HPE, DXC, insert any other IT related co. name.

    You cant have CEO's missing out on their performance bonuses now can you

  14. TheOneTrueBobster

    I gave Big Blue a single digit salute when they started making it clear that pitching up in a noisy open plan office was way more important than actually serving their customers. If the 'co-location' policy was aimed at getting older employees to leave then in my case it worked. But I could care less - I got the hell out and have since doubled my salary, work mostly at home and every new signing we get is a permanently lost customer for IBM. I sleep well.

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