Former IBM exec says she was asked to cover up layoffs affecting older employees

A former IBM executive has alleged that company superiors told her not to comply with a request from a federal agency, according to sworn testimony from a class-action lawsuit reported by ProPublica. The request had asked IBM to provide the names of employees over age 50 who had been laid off.

Catherine Rodgers said she was fired from IBM in 2017 after she warned company management that not complying with the federal agency's request could open the door for claims of age discrimination.

An IBM spokesperson told ProPublica that Ms. Rodgers' warnings about potential age bias were "false" and that the reasons for her termination were "wholly unrelated to her allegations."

Ms. Rodgers' affidavit, filed Jan. 17, is part of a class-action lawsuit filed against the company claiming that IBM attempted to "correct seniority mix" by forcing out thousands of its older employees in 2017. Similar lawsuits have been filed in Texas, California, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Ms. Rodgers claims that management instructed her not provide a list of individuals laid off from her business unit, which she said had disproportionately affected older workers. Based on its previous coverage, ProPublica estimates about 60 percent of IBM's U.S. layoffs between 2014 and 2017 targeted workers age 40 and above.

IBM "appears to be engaged in a concerted and disproportionate targeting of older workers," Ms. Rodgers told ProPublica, adding that if the company releases the ages of those laid off as required under federal law, "the facts will speak for themselves."

An IBM spokesperson did not comment on individual elements included in ProPublica's report of Ms. Rodgers' allegations. Becker's Hospital Review has reached out to IBM for a statement. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

The access the complete ProPublica report, click here.

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