Alan Wild, IBM’s former vice president of human resources, said in a court testimony that IBM has fired over 100,000 employees in recent years to try to look “cool” and “trendy,” like industry peers Google and Amazon.
As reported by Bloomberg, Wild testified that IBM set out to replace its older employees with younger ones over the span of several years to make itself more appealing to the younger workforce. Texas-based Jonathan Langley, 61, accused IBM of firing him after working 24 years for the company. Langley has sued IBM, but the company has recently filed a motion to dismiss this case.
IBM’s firing of older employees has resulted in multiple discrimination lawsuits against the company, including a class-action case in Manhattan and individual civil suits filed in California, Pennsylvania and Texas last year.
IBM made the following statement in response to reports about these lawsuits:
“We have reinvented IBM in the past five years to target higher value opportunities for our clients. The company hires 50,000 employees each year.”
It’s not just its image that the company may be trying to improve. IBM has been struggling with declining revenues over the past seven years. As a consequence, the company has let go of some of its highest paid employees in Northern America and other places. IBM ended up with 350,600 employees at the end of 2018, a reduction of 19% compared to 2013.
Last month, IBM’s New York headquarters laid off another 2,000 employees. At the time, the company made the following statement:
“We are continuing to re-position our team to align with our focus on the high value segments of the IT market – while aggressively hiring in critical new areas that deliver value for our clients and IBM.”
In 2015, an IBM spokesperson denied a Forbes report that said that the company was planning to lay off over 100,000 workers in the coming years. The company dismissed the claims as in an interview with USA Today (opens in new tab) as “ridiculous” and “baseless.”