According to a report from POLITICO, four former employees of IBM sued the tech company today in New York district court on grounds that it violated federal laws prohibiting age discrimination.
The lawsuit charges that in 2014, IBM altered its policy of disclosing the ages of employees affected by group layoffs as required under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.
The law, which is intended to protect older workers from age discrimination, requires that when an employer requests that employees over age 40 waive their rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the company must furnish a breakdown of the ages of those being fired.
The legal action follows an investigative report published last year by ProPublica that found IBM shed more than 20,000 employees aged 40 and over in a span of five years.
According to today’s legal complaint, IBM altered its severance agreements to require employees waive their rights to file class-action lawsuits alleging age discrimination.
IBM was not immediately available for comment.
According to POLITICO, three liberal groups today filed a legal complaint about a Labor Department proposal that would allow 16- and 17-year-old workers to operate medical patient lifts unsupervised.
“The proposal contains false and misleading information about the need for and the impact of the Department’s proposed changes to child labor policies, and it fails the transparency standards embedded in the guidelines,” the groups wrote in a complaint to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting White House chief of staff.
The letter is signed by the National Employment Law Project, the Service International Employees Union, and the Child Labor Coalition. In a November letter to Acosta, Democrats complained that DOL relied on a SurveyMonkey poll with fewer than two dozen respondents. The groups also noted that DOL did not make the full survey results public, despite requests from Democrats.
“Hiding key information from the public is clear evidence that DOL is also completely failing to meet even the most basic principles of transparency embedded in the DOL guidelines,” the groups wrote. “There is clearly a pattern at the Department’s Wage and Hour Division of hiding information that is inconvenient and does not support the Department’s position.”
A DOL spokesperson declined to comment.
The complaint comes amid an inspector general investigation of DOL’s rulemaking process. In a Jan. 25 letter to Democrats, the IG wrote he would investigate whether the agency “deviated from agency regulatory and data quality requirements.”
As reported by POLITICO, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) today introduced a bill that would shield franchisers from certain joint-employment lawsuits.
The so-called “Trademark Licensing Protection Act” would bar franchisers from being classified as a joint employer — and therefore liable for labor violations by its franchisees and contractors — if its actions enforce trademark protection standards.
The bill would update the Trademark Act of 1946, clarifying that enforcing trademark standards “may not be construed as establishing an employment or principal-agent relationship between the owner of the mark and the related company.”
Business groups have been pushing Congress to rewrite the standard for joint employment as defined by the National Labor Relations Board. Under former President Barack Obama, the board ruled that franchisers need exercise only indirect control over franchisees to be held liable.
“Franchise businesses are in a Catch-22,” Matt Haller, the head lobbyist for the International Franchise Association, said in a statement. “They are at once required to maintain standards and possibly liable for efforts to maintain them. This bill can clarify these competing standards to allow for franchise businesses to grow, train workers, and strengthen local economies.”
IFA said the bill would be co-sponsored by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), who voted with Republicans on a joint employer bill last year.