IBM has fired as many as 100,000 employees in the past few years in an effort to boost its appeal to millennials and make it appear to be as “cool” and “trendy” as Amazon.com Inc and Google, according to a deposition from a former vice president in an ongoing age discrimination lawsuit.
The technology company is facing several lawsuits accusing it of firing older workers, including a class-action case in Manhattan and individual civil suits filed in California, Pennsylvania and Texas last year.
“We have reinvented IBM in the past five years to target higher value opportunities for our clients,” IBM said in a statement. “The company hires 50,000 employees each year.”
Big Blue has struggled with almost seven straight years of shrinking revenue.
In the past decade, the company has fired thousands of people in the US, Canada and other high-wage jurisdictions in an effort to cut costs and retool its workforce after coming late to the cloud-computing and mobile-tech revolutions.
The number of IBM employees has fallen to its lowest point in six years, with 350,600 global workers at the end of last year — a 19 percent reduction since 2013.
In a deposition in one of the civil cases, former vice president of human resources Alan Wild said that IBM had “laid off 50,000 to 100,000 employees in just the last several years,” according to a court document filed on Tuesday in Texas.
In his deposition, Wild said 108-year-old IBM faced talent recruitment problems and determined one way to show millennials that it was not “an old fuddy duddy organization” was to make itself appear “as [a] cool, trendy organization” like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon, according to the document.
To do that, IBM set out to slough off large portions of its older workforce using rolling layoffs over the course of several years, according to court documents.
This strategy deliberately targeted older workers like the plaintiff, Texas-based Jonathan Langley, 61, who has accused IBM of firing him after more than 24 years because of his age, according to the document.
IBM filed a motion to dismiss Langley’s case.
On Tuesday, Langley’s lawyers filed an opposition to that motion.
The opposition included comments from Wild’s deposition, which was obtained under oath and is still under seal.
Wild worked at IBM for almost eight years and left his role in October last year, according to his LinkedIn page.
He said he could not comment on the issue.