Global HR headlines: IBM faces age discrimination suit

Workers drag their feet going back to the office in the US and Europe.

IBM is facing a lawsuit from former employees alleging that they were discriminated against. Experts say employers will have a hard time getting workers back into the office, as the demand for hybrid working remains high. California is suing motor vehicle company Tesla for ill-treatment of black workers.

IBM executives’ emails reveal preference for millennials
Court documents have revealed how IBM executives discussed forcing out older workers. The exchanges among executives were on email according to a court filing in an age discrimination case against the company.

The messages called older workers “dinobabies” who should be made an “extinct species”. But in a statement, an IBM spokesperson said that the company never engaged in systematic age discrimination and it terminated employees because of changing business conditions, not because of their age.

The company faces age bias complaints by former employees across the country, reports Bloomberg.

A former IBM vice president of human resources said in a court deposition in one of the cases that the company faced talent recruitment problems and determined one way to show millennials that IBM was not “an old fuddy duddy organisation” was to make itself appear “as [a] cool, trendy organisation”.

In 2020, the median age of IBM’s US workforce was 48, the same as it was in 2010, according to the statement.

New report suggests it may be time to give up on the five-day office week
Despite Covid-19 case numbers falling across the US and much of Europe, many employees are still actively choosing to work from home, making it Increasingly hard for managers who expect offices to fill up when the virus eases.

In London, workers are returning to the office at higher rates, but Underground journeys in the city stood at just 58 percent of 2019 levels, according to recent government figures.

Julia Hobsbawm, author of The Nowhere Office: reinventing work and the workplace of the future, says, “Everybody really did have an expectation that it would all go back to normal. And I think now is a dawning realisation that it isn’t.”

Experts say organisations expecting a full return to work are in for a rude shock and without significant pay incentives, employees are increasingly likely to seek opportunities elsewhere, according to Bloomberg.

According to Future Forum’s latest quarterly survey of almost 11,000 knowledge workers in Australia, France, Germany, Britain and the US, 68 percent of people now prefer a hybrid working model, with 95 percent of respondents wanting flexibility over times when they work.

Tesla sued over allegations of racial discrimination
A California state agency is suing Tesla over allegations by some black workers that the company tolerated racial discrimination at an assembly plant.

The lawsuit said Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, is racially segregated with black workers claiming to be the target of racist slurs and drawings. They also complain that they were assigned the most physically demanding jobs, reports Reuters.

In response, Tesla said it does not tolerate harassment and has disciplined and fired workers who engaged in misconduct.