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What to do if you were fired because of age discrimination



Three former IBM employees
are suing the technology company.

Boyle/Getty Images

  • Three former IBM employees
    are suing the company
    for age discrimination
  • The tech company has fired more than an estimated 20,000
    employees aged 40 or older in the last six years,
    according to a ProPublica report
  • The former employees said IBM fired them because of their
    age. Heather
    , a California-based workplace attorney, told
    Business Insider that’s the most common form of


Three former IBM employees are suing the technology company for
age discrimination. 

“Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process
of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a
younger workforce,” the employees claim in the suit, which was
filed September 18 and
reported by Bloomberg

Age discrimination, which some say is
particularly rampant
in the tech industry, most frequently
takes the form of forcing early retirement, firing, or laying off
older employees, said Heather
, a California-based workplace attorney.

“You’ll get people who are maybe in their 50s or 60s, and the
company starts to kind of systemically move them out and replace
them with lower level, less-experienced, and typically younger
Dan Ryan,
principal of Ryan Search and Consulting and former VP of human
resources, told Business Insider.

It’s actually easier to prove age discrimination than any other
form of discrimination, Bussing said. One simply needs to look at
a list of who was fired and their ages.

In IBM’s case, 20,000-plus American employees aged 40 or
older have been fired in the past six years,
according to a ProPublica report
. That accounts for 60% of
all its firings in that time period. 

“You can usually tell whether age is a factor, because when it
is, you see a disproportionate number of older people being laid
off or let go,” Bussing said. 

If you believe you were fired or laid off because of your age,
here’s what to do:

1. Consult a third party

Lay out everything that happened to a trusted friend, family
member, or colleague, Ryan advised.

“When age discrimination comes up, there are typically a lot of
emotions involved,” Ryan said. “Giving yourself an opportunity to
diffuse that and just look at the facts will really help you
decide if you want to pursue it from a legal standpoint.”

You should also look at your performance reviews. If they were
all positive, but you are over the age of 50 and were fired
regardless, Ryan said that’s a red flag. 

2. Contact a lawyer

If it turns out there’s a valid reason to pursue the case,
contact an attorney with a history of pursuing age discrimination

Bussing said you might also file a complaint with your state
equal opportunity agency, but it might take a very long time
before they come up with a finding. 

If your company is small, you might be the only one suing for
discrimination. But you might also be advised to help gather a
group of other older people who were possibly fired

“When you have mass layoffs, you
usually see a group of people banding together to sue,”
Bussing said. “The more people who go together, the higher stakes
are for the employer. The cost of losing increases with every
person who is in the suit.”

Get the latest
IBM stock price here.

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