Former IBM employee, 57, accuses company of firing her due to age discrimination

Former IBM employee, 57, accuses company of firing her due to age discrimination

A former IBM employee is suing the IT company, alleging she was fired because of age discrimination. Terry Keebaugh, 57, was fired from her role as sa

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A former IBM employee is suing the IT company, alleging she was fired because of age discrimination.

Terry Keebaugh, 57, was fired from her role as sales director in September 2016 as part of ‘restructuring’, one month shy of receiving $573,000 in commissions for deals that would close at year-end.

According to a complaint filed with the United States District Court Southern District of New York on December 21, she received just $20,000 and was replaced by a younger employee who generated less revenue.

‘IBM’s age discrimination is longstanding and pervasive,’ the complaint states.

‘Since 2012, IBM has implemented age-based reorganizations twice a year, sending loyal IBMers over age 50 to the chopping block while sparing younger employees.’

Terry Keebaugh, 57 (pictured) from Alpharetta, Georgia,was fired from her role as sales director at IBM in September 2016 as part of a 'restructuring'

Terry Keebaugh, 57 (pictured) from Alpharetta, Georgia,was fired from her role as sales director at IBM in September 2016 as part of a 'restructuring'

Keebaugh (pictured) was one month shy of receiving $573,000 in commissions and says instead she received just $20,000

Keebaugh (pictured) was one month shy of receiving $573,000 in commissions and says instead she received just $20,000

Terry Keebaugh, 57 (left and right) from Alpharetta, Georgia,was fired from her role as sales director at IBM in September 2016 as part of a ‘restructuring’. She was one month shy of receiving $573,000 in commissions and says instead she received just $20,000

In a lawsuit filed on December 21, she claims she was filed due to age discrimination, a culture at IBM that a complaint describes as 'longstanding and pervasive'. Pictured: A logo hangs outside the IBM offices at 590 Madison Avenue in New York on July 16, 2009

In a lawsuit filed on December 21, she claims she was filed due to age discrimination, a culture at IBM that a complaint describes as 'longstanding and pervasive'. Pictured: A logo hangs outside the IBM offices at 590 Madison Avenue in New York on July 16, 2009

In a lawsuit filed on December 21, she claims she was filed due to age discrimination, a culture at IBM that a complaint describes as ‘longstanding and pervasive’. Pictured: A logo hangs outside the IBM offices at 590 Madison Avenue in New York on July 16, 2009

Keebaugh, from Alpharetta, Georgia, began working at IBM (International Business Machines) in 1984 just months after graduating from Georgetown University and Catholic University, according to the complaint.

For the first 10 years of her tenure, she was employed in the Maryland and Washington DC offices.

She worked her way up from marketing representative to her final title of Travel and Transportation Client Director.

The complaint states that Keebaugh taught herself and mastered ‘the skills necessary to successfully service the accounts IBM assigned her’.

Among her clients were AT&T, BellSouth, Cingular, MCI, Travelport and Verizon.  

According to the complaint, there were no signs that Keebaugh was performing poorly or worse than her younger colleagues. 

Allegedly, during her final year-end performance review in 2015, she received a PBC 1, which is the highest rating possible within IBM. 

She was even assigned to work on IBM’s Millennial Task Force initiative to hire younger workers in fall 2015. 

‘The aim of this initiative is to, over a period of approximately four years, transform IBM’s workforce to be at least 75% millennials, i.e., employees in their 20s and 30s,’ the complaint writes.

‘Naturally, as part of this initiative, IBM has and will continue to fire droves of older workers who exceed IBM’s discriminatory age limit.’

A ProPublica investigation found that between 2013 and 2018, IBM fired 20,000 US employees above age 40.

That amounted to 60 percent of its total job cuts in the US over that period. 

A ProPublica investigation found that between 2013 and 2018, IBM fired 20,000 US employees above age 40. Pictured: Page 1 of Keebaugh v International Business Machines Corp

A ProPublica investigation found that between 2013 and 2018, IBM fired 20,000 US employees above age 40. Pictured: Page 1 of Keebaugh v International Business Machines Corp

A ProPublica investigation found that between 2013 and 2018, IBM fired 20,000 US employees above age 40. Pictured: Page 1 of Keebaugh v International Business Machines Corp

Keebaugh said she noticed that IBM was firing its older workers before they could train the younger employees in the tech company’s mainframes.

She suggested that the older employees put their best practices into a database so that the new employees could easily be trained.

This led to a ‘cognitive solution’ patent application and an achievement award from IBM on August 30, 2016, for her application.

The very next day, on September 1, 2016, her boss sent her a letter stating she was being fired as part of a ‘Skills Transformation Plan’ and that her last day would be November 30.

In a call with her boss, Keebaugh says she was told that she had been rated ‘lowest of the low’ compared to other employees in an assessment of skills.

However, the complaint states that in 2015 she had doubled revenues for one client and that she had contracts in December 2016 that were expected to close worth a combined $100 million.  

Keebaugh claims she was replaced by a new, younger employee who was not able to produce as much revenue.

Luckily, just a month after her last day, she was offered a job as Business Development Executive at Tata Consultancy Services.

Her lawsuit claims IBM is guilty of age discrimination under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, of age discrimination under state law and of wage reduction under labor law.

IBM did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.  

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