A senior IT worker at IBM, who has been ‘sick’ for the past 15 years, has sued the tech giant for discrimination because. According to the Telegraph, the employee, Ian Clifford, complaints about not getting a salary hike. Clifford is a system architect at IBM but has been on sick leave since September 2008. His LinkedIn profile suggests that he has been ‘medically retired’ since April 2013. But Ian Clifford contended that he is a victim of ‘disability discrimination’ as IBM has not increased his salary in the last 15 15 years.
Ian Clifford went on sick leave in September 2008. He first raised a complaint over his salary in 2013. In response to his complaint, IBM offered him a ‘compromise agreement’ where he was put onto the company’s health plan so he wouldn’t be dismissed. This plan ensured that Clifford remained an employee and also relieved him of his obligation to work.
Under the plan, an employee has a ‘right’ to receive 75 per cent of agreed wages until recovery, retirement, or death whichever comes first. In Clifford’s case, the agreed salary was 72,037 pounds. This essentially meant that from 2013, he was paid more than 54,000 pounds (Rs 55,30,556) per year after 25 per cent deductions.
Despite being an inactive employee, Clifford was guaranteed to receive this salary until he reached the retirement age of 65. However, he did not find this arrangement generous enough and argued that his salary was insufficient to cope with rising inflation. Consequently, he took IBM to an employment tribunal in UK’s Reading in February 2022.
The employment tribunal, however, dismissed his claims and a judge observed that Ian Clifford has been given a favourable treatment and a substantial benefit.
"This contention is not sustainable because only the disabled can benefit from the plan. It is not disability discrimination that the plan is not even more generous,” the judge observed.
Meanwhile, IBM was in the news recently after the company announced that it would pause hiring for back-office functions such as human resources as roughly 7,800 jobs could be replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the next five years.