RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – A U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday that the severance agreements signed by now-former employees of IBM restrict the former workers from suing, as a group, over alleged age discrimination.
According to a story first reported by Reuters, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously, saying that the provisions in the agreements that waived rights to bring class-action lawsuits were valid. The reason given by the panel was, as Reuters reported, “because the ability to sue as a class is not a substantive right under the federal law prohibiting age discrimination in employment.”
The case is Estle v. International Business Machines Corp, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-3372.
Not the same case
This latest ruling is a separate case as the one WRAL TechWire wrote about in November 2021, Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer for a separate class action lawsuit against IBM, confirmed with WRAL TechWire today.
Liss-Riordan said her firm now represents more than 1,000 laid off IBM employees and is continuing to pursue age discrimination claims against IBM “in court and in arbitration.”
“We have uncovered smoking gun highly incriminating evidence showing that IBM engaged in intentional systemic discrimination against older employees, and we are working to get this evidence unsealed so that we can use it across all of our cases,” Liss-Riordan told WRAL TechWire this week. “One federal court ruled that some of the documents should be unsealed now, and IBM appealed that ruling to the Second Circuit. We are now waiting for a ruling from the Second Circuit about whether these documents can be made public and usable in the other cases.”
In November 2021, attorneys representing IBM moved for dismissal in a case filing in the District Court in the State of New York, 1:21-CV-06296. In the filing, dated Nov. 8, a consolidated memorandum, IBM argues that 25 cases ought to be dismissed due to the timing of their claims and the signing of confidentiality documents that stipulated terms of separation.