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IBM executives called older workers ‘dinobabies’ in company emails, according to age-discrimination lawsuit

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Executives at IBM
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referred to the company’s older workers as “dinobabies” in internal email correspondence, according to a new age-discrimination lawsuit.

These emails were submitted as evidence in an ageism case that former IBM employees have brought against the company. The lawsuit, with its origins in 2018, started after IBM eliminated jobs for more than 20,000 U.S. employees over the age of 40, representing 60% of its total job cuts in the U.S. during those years, according to ProPublica.

The executives — no longer at the company, IBM informed MarketWatch — wanted to make the dinobabies “an extinct species,” the emails read.

See: Will ‘unretirement’ solve the labor shortage?

Labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan is representing hundreds of former IBM employees in the lawsuit and alleges IBM executives were aware of a “companywide plan to oust older employees in order to make room for younger employees.”

One email from a former IBM executive, whose name is redacted in the filing, referred to older employees’ perceived lack of understanding of the digital landscape as a danger for the company. “This is what must change,” the email reads, per the filing. “They really don’t understand social or engagement. Not digital natives. A real threat for us.”

IBM spokesman Chris Mumma told Insider the company has “never engaged in systemic age discrimination.” He went on to say that “IBM separated employees because of changing business conditions, not because of their age.” 

From the archives (November 2021): Older U.S. workers are ‘unretiring’

Plus (July 2021): While many are looking for work, some older workers are jumping at the chance for a new start

IBM did appear to acknowledge the authenticity of the emails, while claiming they do not represent the company’s feelings toward its workers.

“As the data clearly show, the language used does not reflect IBM practices or policies. Between 2010 and 2020, 37 percent of all U.S. hires at IBM were over the age of 40, and during that same period the company hired more than 10,000 people in the U.S. over the age of 50,” an IBM spokesperson wrote to MarketWatch in an email.

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