back to article International Bullying Machine? Big Blue seeks exposure of corporate canary

IBM has demanded the name of the person who leaked an internal document that appeared to show the company was deliberately targeting and firing older workers. The demand by Big Blue's lawyers comes in a lawsuit brought by one of those that was pushed out, Jonathan Langley, who is suing his old company for age discrimination …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what a company

    Hey Red Hat folks at least you have something to look forward to. That sudden new mid-life 2nd career awaits.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: what a company

      I forsee a new company being formed of former RH staff very soon and going head to head with IBM in this space. Perhaps they should call it "Blue Hat"????

      As RHEL is 100% open source there is little that IBM could do to stop them forking it and carrying on as before.

      1. Adair

        Re: what a company

        Everyone loves a good fork.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: what a company

          My wife punches me in the shoulder when I say things like that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: what a company

            When I say it she starts taking her clothes off!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: what a company

        "I forsee a new company being formed of former RH staff very soon"

        Let's hope IBM keep pottering on.

        1. PTW
          Pint

          Re: Let's hope IBM keep pottering on.

          There aren't enough up votes in the world for this^^^

          Have one of these ---->

      3. Anonymous Coward
      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: what a company

        I forsee a new company being formed of former RH staff very soon and going head to head with IBM in this space. Perhaps they should call it "Blue Hat"????

        Well, "raspberries" are often reddish in colour, so maybe "Raspberry Beret"?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM

    IBM - our IT solutions are crap, but our lawyers are second to none...

    1. Tim99 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: IBM

      IBM Lawyers = The Nazgul: LOTR Gaming Wiki link.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM

      If the lawyers are so good, how come they let Big Blue get into this mess in the first place?

      Seriously though, if any industry ever needed severe regulation its the judicial system. Rather than deal with the plaintiff's core issue, lawyers are able to charge 10x $k's arguing legal technicalities, and the judges let them get away with it because when all is said and done, they're part of the same crowd. This case could collapse because the plaintiff simply can't afford to see it through, compared with the corporations vast financial resources.

      1. Jimmy2Cows

        Re: IBM

        Standard defence practice isn't it? Bankrupt or threaten to bankrupt the plaintiff with litigation costs, forcing them to drop the case.

        Amazing this doesn't qualify as intimidation.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Hell's looking icy today

          Amazing this doesn't qualify as intimidation.

          And interfere with a citizen's[1] inalienable right to feed gold to lawyers?

          [1] Or of course corporation.

          1. Alistair Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Hell's looking icy today

            @Nick Kew:

            /sadface Citizens are United don'cha know.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: IBM

          If not intimidation, then certainly it is a purely procedural move intended to deny the victim access to justice. It's an abuse of the legal system and IBM should be declared vexatious litigants as a result.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Re: IBM

            That's the whole point of the legal system. It exists to serve the interests of those who feed it vast quantities of gold. Any relationship with justice is pure coincidence. IBM is merely using the system as it is designed to be used.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: IBM

            "It's an abuse of the legal system and IBM should be declared vexatious litigants as a result."

            How can you have a US legal system that is the best money can buy if you can't buy your way out of problems? Lady Justice is blind and fails to notice if the scales are tipped one way or the other via money...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM

        "If the lawyers are so good, how come they let Big Blue get into this mess in the first place?"

        Because some of the employment related stuff they do is allegedly sketchy.

        And they don't often lose. And often the other side pays all their costs. including washing the bloodstains out of their expensive blue suits.

      3. nerdbert

        Re: IBM

        If the lawyers are so good, how come they let Big Blue get into this mess in the first place?

        I've dealt with their IT lawyers quite a bit. They were very good every time I dealt with them. You'd expect that, given that their IT lawyers generate $1.5B+ every year. They're passed around from division to division depending on who is management's golden haired boy.

        But the IT lawyers form their own entity inside IBM. HR is its own realm and is a cost center rather than a revenue generator. They're tasked with carrying out management's orders and trying to pass off their actions as legal. Sometimes it's not all that easy to do, as in this case.

      4. the Jim bloke Silver badge

        Re: IBM

        Soooo.....

        Whats going to happen when the lawyers get too "senior", and have to be moved on to "greener pastures.."

        I am envisaging something like a a mother spider being consumed by its young, but I expect reality would not be as wholesome.

        1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: IBM

          'Whats going to happen when the lawyers get too "senior"'

          This is why (in the USA at least) law firms tend to be partnerships. You can't just cut them loose without also handing them their share of the firm.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM

        This case could collapse because the plaintiff simply can't afford to see it through, compared with the corporations vast financial resources.

        Could we set up a fund for Langley?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not shift HQ from Armonk to PyongYang where the courts would be much more sympathetic on liquidating surplus employees on behalf of the Glorius Ginnies bonus.

    Failing that they could try Brunie, although thier lawyers would probably charge by the stone when impemlementing an elbow action.

  4. Guus Leeuw

    Editor Optional as well as title?

    Dear Sir,

    I was looking forward to read this article, but the opening sentence left me wondering whether the journalist knows what he / she / it is doing...

    "IBM has demanded to the name..."

    Can we have an editor, please?

    Regards,

    Guus

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Editor Optional as well as title?

      "I was looking forward to read this article, but the opening sentence left me wondering whether the journalist knows what he / she / it is doing..."

      I was looking forward to reading this comment, but the opening sentence left me wondering whether the commentard knows what he / she / it is doing...

      .

      .

      I get where you're coming from, I truly do, but a lack of simple oversight leaves one open to criticism.

      1. Guus Leeuw

        Re: Editor Optional as well as title?

        Thank you, Kane.

        Constructive criticism is always welcome: It serves to teach me something!

        With respect,

        Guus

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, hand it to a journalist then

    I'd give it to a journo under whistleblower statue, then ask the journo to deposit a statement. Source protection applies.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Well, hand it to a journalist then

      Too late for that now. Should have done that BEFORE starting the litigation.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      whistleblower statue?

      Nice idea. I like it.

      But where do I find one?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, hand it to a journalist then

      Just get some publication to hire Langley as a Journalist, and claim he's secretly been working for them for a few years already.

  6. trevorde

    The source is...

    ... Ginni Rometty

    1. Yes Me Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The source is...

      Very likely. She's in the age group that's allegedly getting fired.

  7. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Remember IBM...

    back when it was IBM and not yet another crap outsourcer?

    1. UriGagarin

      Re: Remember IBM...

      this comment intentionally left blank.

  8. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

    Who would be a whistleblower?

    Has anyone compiled a list of cases where the whistleblower is "safe" (identity protected, keeps their job, etc) but the miscreant gets clobbered with the full force of the law?

    Every case I've heard of, it's the honest man reporting the bad behaviour who gets shafted while the offender - usually but not quite always Management - gets let off the hook...

  9. adam payne Silver badge

    IBM has demanded the name of the person who leaked an internal document that appeared to show the company was deliberately targeting and firing older workers.

    Obviously so they can sack the person.

    Not only does IBM want to know who provided the document but it wants Langley to pay its legal costs for the discovery effort, as sanctions for refusing to cooperate during a prior deposition.

    So they can drain him of much money as possible so he can't continue the case.

  10. The Force

    The Great Kettle Leak Conspiracy.

    Reminds me of a time when IBM banned kettles in UK (or possibly just Basingstoke)) offices so you had to pay to buy water to make teas and coffees, this was reported to one of the Computing Magazines/Papers of the time (2001), can't remember which one. After the article appeared our manager came to our team of 20 or so in AIX Support wanting to know who it was that leaked this.. It was never confirmed but we thought we knew who it was, though may have been from anyone ... he departed the next year of his own accord if it was who we thought it was.

    If there was a witch hunt over a light hearted kettle problem, you can imagine someone leaking details over a key policy document, they will be hunting them down.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: The Great Kettle Leak Conspiracy.

      Up to a point, Lord CopperKettle.

      The key point being, who is hunting? Your local team manager might be personally annoyed at his/her pettifogging being outed without it being a corporate thing.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feeling blue

    Ha! Just recently the Best of the Best awards were given out to some of the worst managers and employees. All of them get to go on an outing somewhere in Phuket. Very tongue in cheek.

  12. spold Bronze badge

    It's Been Modified

    There will no longer be an age discrimination policy.

    HR has announced a new policy that employees will be lined up quarterly and the lions will be released. Those no longer capable of appropriate corporate agility will be eliminated by natural selection. A much cheaper and motivational incentive plan without obvious age bias and pesky pay-offs. Why not - job skills are not a factor in this new policy, just like the last one.

  13. John Savard Silver badge

    Gap in the Law

    I should think there ought to be laws that are clear, plain and unambiguous: if a lawsuit is ongoing, and there is information relevant to the outcome of that lawsuit, any person is not only legally permitted to supply that information, but indeed is obligated to do so, just as if the information were relevant to criminal activity. If you owe money in a lawsuit, it should be just like you've committed a crime, you can make no claims whatsoever against anyone who brings forward evidence of your guilt.

    At present, there are instead laws that say exactly the opposite: if the U.S. Government is being sued by someone, it's illegal for any U.S. Government employee to do anything to help the person suing. I view this as insane; every person must be under a total obligation to ensure the courts find the truth, with no parts of the relevant truth hidden from them.

  14. Medixstiff

    If it gets to the point where the guy haves nothing else to lose, I hope the document anonymously gets sent to news outlets, shared on Facebook and the like.

    Then see IBM's reaction when the negative publicity starts biting them hard.

  15. OldManBlueSkies

    Indian BodyShop Manipulators

    I'm glad that Jonathan Langley has the "cojones" to stand up to the bastards at this nasty place of modern slavery.

    We should pay into a fundraiser if they try to screw over this fine young man. Surely we as human beings must stand together!

    To be honest though, we are dickheads ourselves by becoming slaves.

    We have human rights, and just because an amoral society tries to instill in us that we made a choice to accept these rules doesn't mean we did.

    Sorry for the moral piety. I'm no better....but as I'm getting older I'm becoming less scared. What's the worst they can do? Make me use Facebook?

  16. Potemkine! Silver badge

    it only applies within government and not when applied to a private company

    It shouldn't. If the Law doesn"t say so so change it .

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whistleblower? (singular)

    There could be many. Back when I was an IBM contractor (through late-2012), the internal discussion boards frequently had comments from IBMers complaining that they were being passed over or dealing with radio silence when they applied to internally posted positions. I rather doubt these complainers were *all* unqualified or all in their early-30s.

  18. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Either way..

    If IBM legally laid off their people to bring in contractors, they are scum. If they illegally targeted older employees, or ones they felt were making too much money for dismissal, they are lower than scum.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019