The results of recent studies indicate that older workers in Rhode Island and around the country are being terminated more often than their younger colleagues and are having difficulty finding new jobs. Age-based discrimination is prohibited in the United States by the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act, but a rash of recent lawsuits filed by disgruntled workers suggest the landmark law is often flouted by some of America’s most prominent companies.
Technology firm accused of discrimination
One of these age discrimination lawsuits was filed by three former IBM workers who lost their jobs in 2018 when the technology giant terminated thousands of employees who were at or over 40 years of age. The litigation has now become a class action involving hundreds of former IBM workers. Internal emails released by the attorneys representing the workers allegedly reveal how IBM executives viewed their most experienced employees. One of the emails described older workers as “dinobabies,” and another referred to them as a threat to the future of the company
An IBM representative responded to the allegations by pointing out that 37% of the company’s workers are 40 years of age or older. While the representative did not question the authenticity of the emails, he claimed that they did not accurately reflect the way IBM treats older workers. He also stated that the executives who wrote the emails are no longer employed by the company.
Older workers are sometimes selected for termination because they earn more than younger employees and providing them with benefits like health insurance can be expensive. When employers take this path, they can find themselves facing a public backlash that damages their corporate reputations and leads to age discrimination lawsuits. When workers who have suffered discrimination or harassment file lawsuits, internal company correspondence like the emails in the IBM case are often the most damaging pieces of evidence.