IBM executives have discussed in emails how to evict older workers, calling them ‘Dinobabies’ who should be considered an ‘extinct species’, according to a court filing in a case age discrimination against the company.
The communications show “highly incriminating animosity” against older employees from officials who at the time held the “highest ranks” of the company, according to Friday’s filing.
The partially redacted filing says the emails surfaced in separate arbitration proceedings, but it does not reveal the identities of company officials or indicate when they were speaking. A judge ordered the release of versions of the underlying documents.
In a chain of emails, an official from International Business Machines Corp. described a plan to “accelerate change by inviting ‘dinobabies’ (new species) to leave” and turn them into an “extinct species”, according to the filing. Company officials also complained about IBM’s “mother-dated workforce” that “needs to change” and discussed frustration that IBM had a much lower share of millennials in its workforce. than a competitor, but said its share would increase after the layoffs, according to the filing.
An IBM spokesperson said in a statement that the company has never engaged in systematic age discrimination and has terminated employees due to changing business conditions, and not because of their age. In 2020, the median age of IBM’s U.S. workforce was 48, the same as in 2010, the release said.
The spokesperson also said the language quoted in the emails “is not consistent with the respect IBM has for its employees and, as the facts clearly show, does not reflect the practices or policies of the company”.
The company is facing age-based claims in arbitrations and legal proceedings by former employees across the country. A former IBM vice president of human resources said in a court deposition in one of the cases that the company was facing talent recruiting issues and determined that one way to show the generation Y that IBM wasn’t “an old fuddy duddy organization” was to make itself appear “like [a] cool and trendy organization.
Friday’s filing was submitted by Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer who represents hundreds of workers suing the company.
“IBM has engaged in blatant age discrimination,” Liss-Riordan said in an interview Friday. “IBM has tried to use arbitration clauses to protect this evidence from the public and other employees trying to build their discrimination cases.”
The case is Lohnn v. International Business Machines Corp., 21-cv-06379, US District Court, Southern District of New York.