IBM Uses Arbitration to Avoid Providing Information Once Guaranteed to Former Employees
IBMhas recently begun denying former employees access to valuable information in lieu of the opportunity to file a dispute in arbitration. For the past 10 years,IBMprovided former employees with a severance package that included a request to waive age-discrimination claims. This also included information about the job titles and ages of the employees fired at the same time.
The goal was to help former employees determine if they had been a victim of age discrimination. The information is required by federal law for companies that want to prevent lawsuits from employees over the age of 40 who are let go from a company. IBM is no longer providing that information and has chosen instead to offer former employees the opportunity to bring claims of age discrimination through the arbitration process.
Critics of the new policy believe it could make it more difficult for older former employees to determine if they are eligible for a law suit. Though the person still has the option of requesting arbitration, they are no longer provided with the information they once had to weigh their options. ThoughIBMis one of the first companies to make this type of change to severance agreements, many companies are expected to follow in their footsteps and use arbitration in a similar manner.
IBMclaims the changes were made to the policy in an effort to protect the privacy of former employees. Since they are still offering the option of private arbitration, they do not believe former employees are losing any of their rights. Critics of the new policy are concerned that without the information they were once provided, former employees will be unable to make a decision about their circumstances.