Shannon Riordan, one of the Toronto employment lawyers is currently being compared to a ‘pit bull’ holding a ‘Chihuahua’ in his mouth. In the previous two decades, she has gone after several firms that have deliberately acted against their consumers or their employees. She has fought legal battles against giant companies.
She is now fighting the IBM Corp. On Monday this week, she filed a class-action lawsuit against IBM on behalf of her clients who claimed that the tech company was discriminating them by using age as an excuse when it fired them. “Since the last couple of years, IBM has systematically laid off their employees to build a younger pool of employees,” her clients alleged.
While IBM has argued that such ‘changes’ are necessary to stay in the competition. “Changes like these are based on skills, not age,” stated IBM’s official spokesman, Ed Barbini. Yet, the company is facing tremendous pressure to change its policies. In March, a report was published in ProPublica exposing IBM’s age-discriminating rules and regulation.
Liss Riordan is expecting several of the ex-IBM employees to join her lawsuit. She claimed, “According to me thousands of people will be affected by IBM’s policies and therefore IBM should be forced to change its conduct.” If she is successful, IBM may have to pay millions of dollars in damages. IBM is not the only company that is firing citing ‘skills’ as a reason. GE has fired thousands of workers and even sold many of its business units. Further, IBM has stopped giving data on how many employees it is firing in the US.
Recently laid-off employees are saying that the recent firings have created an atmosphere of fear, particularly in the case of older employees. For nearly two decades, Belinda Kromer’s worked as an employee at IBM. Belinda, who makes about $115,000 a year, was planning to work till she was 70. Recently, she was abruptly fired by IBM. Kromer says she was abruptly fired for no apparent reason. She now struggles with her new life and is having a hard time finding a job. She is just one of the many employees who had signed away their right to sue.
Workers typically sign an agreement not to sue IBM for age discrimination, either as an individual or in a class-action lawsuit.
IBM’s severance package now stands at just one month, say, former employees. For some, the offer was so insignificant that they opted to leave the money on the table and retain their right to sue.”
One such example is that of Edvin Ruis. He joined IBM in 2003. The first firings started just a year later, he claimed. He wasn’t quite in the mood to retire. Yet, in March 2018, he was fired by IBM.
Liss-Riordan is a well-known lawyer among Toronto employment lawyers. A high-profile case to get Uber accepts their drivers as employees ended as a $100 million fine for uber but were turned in their appeal. Moreover, it’s said that it’s difficult to file a class action suit citing age discrimination. Yet, one of the leading Toronto employment lawyers believes it is quite possible to do so.