back to article Take a Big Blue cheque and go: IBM settles 281 UK age discrim cases

IBM has paid off 281 people who brought age discrimination claims against it in UK Employment Tribunals – leaving four more cases outstanding. In a judgment quietly published last week, Big Blue was said to have reached "confidential settlement terms" with 281 people out of the 285 who had raised employment law grievances …

  1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Well, no one's ever been fired for buying IBM. Same can't be said if you're an oldie working for them !!!!

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    No word as to how much it's cost them?

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge
      Flame

      I sure hope that it was in the upper 7 digits, per person, given it included no admission of wrong-doing on IBM part.

      1. a pressbutton Silver badge

        If this includes loss of Defined Benefit Pension entitlements, compo could reach 7 figures.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Tomato42...

        Not sure its that much.

        You could use as a formula that they are owed their base salaries and then some. But most are sales and they are highly leveraged in terms of compensation.

        There are some stories I could confirm... ;-)

        I even had one deal taken away from me because I was well in to my bonus and it would have meant an extra 75K in bonus on top of what i was making.

        Posted Anon for the right reasons.

      3. aks Bronze badge

        Those dollar signs look like an admission of guilt to me.

    2. AdamWill

      well no

      well, no. that's what *confidential* agreements generally tend to entail.

  3. Roger Greenwood

    Baccarat/baccara

    Yes sir, I can boogie (1977 for the grandads). Ginni would remember that.

  4. SVV Silver badge

    bright graduates picking other employers instead of bringing their smarts under Big Blue's roof

    This seems a somewhat self defeating way of solving that problem, as any graduate who really is bright should realise that the IBM career ladder will end up with a sudden drop for them too once they have advanced for a sufficient length of time to be also thought of as yesterday's papers. They should also bear in mind the fact that the wisdom and experience of the older staff won't be there for them to tap into any more, or guide them away from foolish mistakes brought on by naive youthful trend following.

    All of this gives IBM a faint aura of midlife crisis causing the desire to buy a sportscar, or a church deciding that the young people aren't interested any more so what they really need to attract the kids is some of that newfangled rock music with a bit of Jesus stuff in it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bright graduates picking other employers instead of bringing their smarts under Big Blue's roof

      The Christian Rock market is massive. Pretty sure it's not just to attract adolescent god botherers.

      Even mainstream artists throw a pinch of Christ in every now and then because they know it will help them sell many, many records.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bright graduates picking other employers instead of bringing their smarts under Big Blue's roof

        As an old school CoE atheist. My heart drops when I walk into a church and see a rum kit behind that perspex screening they use.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: bright graduates picking other employers instead of bringing their smarts under Big Blue's roof

          "...I walk into a church and see a rum kit..."

          Communion wine not good enough these days, eh?

          1. Invidious Aardvark
            Angel

            Re: bright graduates picking other employers instead of bringing their smarts under Big Blue's roof

            Some people like the blood of Christ for the eucharist, the more hardcore prefer the Holy Spirit...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: bright graduates picking other employers instead of bringing their smarts under Big Blue's roof

              DHRINK!

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: bright graduates picking other employers instead of bringing their smarts under Big Blue's roof

      The bright college grad will realize that in the IT world, you end up spending somwhere between 24-36 months at a job before moving to the next big thing. Unless you're on the fast track, you are not destined for great things at the company. So you move out to move on.

      IBM... slowly sinking and its doubtful that RedHat can save it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sure took a long time

    Wow, nine years to finally get some justice, and a check. No wonder no one wants to go through the ordeal of fighting big companies. Good on them for sticking with it and getting paid. Much as I dislike attorneys, I can only pray they walloped IBM with nine years of fees (that sadly probably exceeded the settlement).

    As a target of similar behavior I really hope this sets a precedent for the US complaints.

    1. prinz

      Re: Sure took a long time

      Given IBM's attitude towards older workers, they were probably hoping that their delaying tactics would last long enough for the majority of plaintiffs would die.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sure took a long time

        > they were probably hoping that their delaying tactics would last long enough for the majority of plaintiffs would die.

        Or that the stress of fighting the court case would hasten said dearth thus reducing the payout from a defined benefit pension.

  6. steviebuk Silver badge

    confidential terms

    So if there was no wrong doing and you have nothing to hide then why have you forced them into "confidential terms".

    Something to hide?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: confidential terms

      It's probably to prevent another wrinkly silver uprising.

      I honestly don't see what the problem is though. Young people get discriminated against for having less experience, so why can't old people be discriminated against for age related reasons?

      Let's face it, in a tech firm being a team of people of over 50s isn't very motivating for a youngster.

      I'm in my mid thirties and consider myself old for the industry. There's certain things I just can't do anymore for various reasons (related directly and indirectly to age).

      I have a family, so I can't do epically long shifts nor am I inclined to. I won't work at weekends and I couldn't give a flying fuck about my job title so I'm unlikely to care about picking up every cert that the industry throws at me...I don't have the time nor inclination.

      Young, unattached, people on the other hand, have buckets of time, they do seem to care about their job titles and they'll work when you want them too. I think that's worth the extra money.

      Experience is not something that should have massive sway on the amount someone earns.

      In a capitalist market output should be proportional to input. Obviously, it doesn't work that way in reality but that is the spirit of capitalism.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: confidential terms

        I would imagine in a capitalist market what matters is the output, and that sometimes comes from hours of input, but as often as not comes from less hours of experienced input (not making old mistakes, etc).

      2. LeahroyNake Silver badge

        Re: confidential terms

        'Experience is not something that should have massive sway on the amount someone earns.'

        Really! So maybe you wouldn't mind a fresh youngster straight out of medical school carrying out a heart transplant on you?

        It's called experience for a reason! not everything goes as planned and it is the experience that allows people to overcome obstacles that are not explained in a text book.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: confidential terms

          Some poor fucker has to be their first.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: confidential terms

          Jesus Christ man.

          I wouldn't want a jaded 50 something with decades of long shifts and stress behind him whose wife just walked out on him after a 20 year shitty marriage full of neglect because he had to work long weekends operating on me either.

          Experience matters, but only to a point. Youth, vigor and enthusiasm is equally as valuable.

          I'd want someone in their early forties that still has steady hands, a stable life and hasn't yet been broken by decades of soul destroying repetition ripping me open and swapping my heart.

          Last thing I'd want is an old boy that can hardly stand up that looks like he should be on the table with me.

          Medicine is a really poor example of age being beneficial...it ain't. It's a fucking hard job, with long hours and usually costs you in your personal life.

          Medical practitioners are heros in my book but older ones tend to a liability...

          Last fucker I'd want operating on me is a Harold Shipman style nutter going rogue in my rib cage.

          1. Legionary13

            Re: confidential terms

            I asked a retired surgeon if he could identify a point when the extra experience was overcome by loss of sensitivity/dexterity and he put it at age 45 - over a decade after he became a consultant.

      3. oiseau Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: confidential terms

        Experience is not something that should have massive sway on the amount someone earns.

        Maybe you should try to evaluate what massive sway is and then, define in relation to what.

        In today's globalised IT market, you will/can find a great many people with so-so credentials and very little experience who will work 10 hour days for a massive sway (below, obviously) with respect to the amount someone with decent credentials and years of experience would earn doing the same work and doing it well.

        It seems that you are comparing fish with chips.

        Yes, they are usually in the same bag but I'm sure that you are aware that they are definitely not the same thing.

        This happens because in companies such as IBM (not the only one) those at the top don't give a monkey's toss about anything but their premiums and shareholder dividends.

        O.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: confidential terms

          I'm not comparing fish to chips. I'm looking at the larger picture.

          IBM has an image problem that will bite it in the ass down the line. They want younger people, I get it. Old people are harming their image.

          The old IBM image of a guy wearing head to toe Marks and Spencer, cashmere jumper, white shirt and chinos, doesn't sell kit anymore. That's not what the mainstream perception of a techie is anymore.

          We're not the cuddly, foppish, unassuming nerds that you'd be happy to take home to your mum anymore. We probably never have been.

          We're the knackered, grumpy, scruffy, sweary people constantly raging about people clicking phishing links that your mum thinks is a waste of space.

          Not only that in the last decade tech firms have gone from old and reliable to young and disruptive.

          Granted, experience brings a lot of stability and reliability to a company but youth brings innovation and change...life.

          Look at Tesla for example and their Cybertruck. Can I see my daft 70 year old Manc old man in one? Fuck no. He likes it and thinks it's cool..."looks like a Johnny Cab from Total Recall" he said...but he also said "I'd look a proper Charlie in that, pulling up at the pub".

          Can I see myself in one? Probably not...can I see my lads in one in the future...yes, probably.

          IBM is currently the firm that people my old man's age would choose...trouble is, people that age are retiring which means the people driving sales to IBM are dwindling.

          Would I push sales to IBM? Maybe.

          Will my kids drive sales to IBM? Without IBM gaining relevance with that generation in the future...no. They may only think of IBM in the same way we think of Sinclair, Commodore or Amstrad...vintage brands from days of yore.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: confidential terms

            "The old IBM image of a guy wearing head to toe Marks and Spencer, cashmere jumper, white shirt and chinos, doesn't sell kit anymore. That's not what the mainstream perception of a techie is anymore."

            Good Diety, you are SO young! My dear father-in-law, may he rest in peace, a forty-year man at IBM, would never have been seen dead in anything but dark suit, conservative tie, and white shirt. In that kit he was just as happy talking to the CEO or crawling under a desk to trace wires (always brought a plastic tarp in his briefcase for the instances when the latter was required). I hope he is resting in peace, if he knew what IBM has become, you could power a small city off the dynamo of him spinning in his grave.

      4. Imhotep

        Re: confidential terms

        "discriminated against for having less experience"

        So not hired because they're not as qualified?

      5. Scorpio63

        Re: confidential terms

        why should age matter at all? I'm over 50 and performing better than any of the 20-somethings that work for me.

        About long shifts - I don't do them NOR do I expect or allow any of the younglings working for me to do them. Yes, we all have to sit through a night implementation or emergency, but age is not important there either.

        being able to do something in 4 hours instead of 1 or 2 weeks counts. Experience counts. Age does not.

        1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: confidential terms

          However if you take the narrow bean counter view, 30 years of Defined Benefit pension costs a lot less than 40 years of Defined Benefit pension, and those youngsters aren't eligible for Defined Benefit.

      6. Denarius

        Re: confidential terms

        AC, you must be a pom or merkin. When I started in IT most of the older staff went out of their way to induct me into the folklore and wisdom/bitter experience of their times. That meant my newbie status was far shorter and the wiles of sales weasels much less effective. As I became one of the old timers I enjoyed mentoring the bright young things failed by the assembly line excuse of an IT degree so they became useful quickly. And yes, that was successful.

        Some things like skepticism, proper cost/benefit analysis and assuming senior manglement always lie or are deluded just have to be learnt on the job. Yes there are IT knowledge hoarders, but usually those were outnumbered by adults.

      7. Grumpy Lemur

        Re: confidential terms

        This situation isn’t a simple question of age discrimination as the article suggests - therefore cannot be seen as some sort of vicarious revenge attack on Baby Boomers. The fact is, IBM U.K. put itself in serious breach of good faith by disguising a separation as a change to the pension scheme. The company handled the whole thing astonishingly badly and was clearly making it up as it went along. It was found guilty in a huge and complex court judgement. It appealed but not against the judgement - only against the punishment - leaving the way for these settlements. Of course that route was only available to those who left the company. Those of us still stuck on the headcount were hardly likely to sue. If they’d wanted to get rid of the “wrinklies” they could have funded a generous separation package. Or they could have offered early retirement. They’d been doing both for most of the 80s, 90s and 00s. Instead they came up with A Cunning Plan which cost them a fortune and alienated the generation that built Big Blue.

        1. Blue Turkey

          Re: confidential terms

          Grumpy, you a completely correct. IBM spent years paying people to take early retirement. I was a manager and one of my guys that volunteered to leave got a £60k cheque and some extra years added to their service, and that was actually lower than many others had. Then some bright spark came up with this great idea to stiff us on pensions and at the same time push people out of the company.

          Whoever really made these and subsequent decisions is long gone including the Australian ahole and his chinless wonder of an HR Director at the time.

          Happy days.

  7. macjules Silver badge
    Facepalm

    IBM rejected any attempt to characterise those changes as age discrimination

    You are never "old" at IBM, just "chronologically challenged".

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: IBM rejected any attempt to characterise those changes as age discrimination

      Chronologically defeated, judging by the outcome today.

  8. adam payne Silver badge

    we are pleased to resolve these remaining cases on confidential terms.

    I'm sure you are pleased that you didn't have to admit to any wrongdoing.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now how about the Canadians that went through this?

    Just sayin' - Canadians are too polite...

  10. earl grey Silver badge
    Flame

    there's a phrase for companies like them

    lower than a snake's arsehole.

    that about sums them up.

  11. Imhotep

    I'm Younger Than That Now

    Today's Wall Street Journal has an article on how the IT workforce is skewed toward younger workers.

    Not too bad of a tech article for the WSJ, but in addition to focusing on the hiring of younger workers, they could have addressed companies like IBM who are actively targeting older workers for layoffs.

  12. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

    Bailing with a collander

    Getting rid of experienced people sure has seemed to help IBM's continued dominance of the global IT market.

    /sarcasm/ Because you can't hear the tone of my typing.

  13. AdamWill

    alternatively...

    "The alleged sack-all-the-oldies plan was supposedly given the internal codename Operation Baccarat, according to lawyers who successfully forced IBM to produce emails from CEO Ginni Rometty herself which referred to a project by that name. Baccarat is a card game played in casinos. In the North American variant's gameplay, "each player's moves are forced by the cards the player is dealt," according to Chambers Encyclopaedia."

    Alternatively, the reference could just be that only old people know how the hell baccarat works :P

    1. Slabfondler
      Pint

      Re: alternatively...

      A page out of the Evelyn Tremble book?

  14. PassingStrange

    Equally, a book that few younger people will be familiar with. You used to be able to buy it on Amazon, but nowadays there's a distinct lack of Sellers.

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