A lawyer known for battling tech giants over the treatment ofworkers has set her sights on International Business MachinesCorp.

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Shannon Liss-Riordan on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit infederal court in Manhattan on behalf of three former IBM employeeswho say the tech giant discriminated against them based on theirage when it fired them. Liss-Riordan, a partner at Lichten &Liss-Riordan in Boston, has represented workers against Amazon,Uber, and Google and has styled her firm as the premier championfor employees left behind by powerful tech companies.

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“Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process ofsystematically laying off older employees in order to build ayounger workforce,” the former employees claim in the suit, whichdraws heavily on a ProPublica report published in March that saidthe company has fired more than 20,000 employees older than 40 inthe last six years.

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The lawsuit comes as IBM faces questions about its firingpractices. In exhaustive detail, the ProPublica report made thecase that IBM systematically broke age-discrimination rules.Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hasconsolidated complaints against IBM into a single, targetedinvestigation, according to a person familiar with it. Aspokeswoman for the EEOC declined to comment.

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In the last decade, IBM has fired thousands of people in theU.S., Canada, and other high-wage jurisdictions in an effort to cutcosts and retool its workforce after coming late to the cloudcomputing and mobile tech revolutions.

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“Changes in our workforce are about skills, not age,” EdBarbini, a spokesman for IBM said in an emailed statement. “Infact, since 2010 there is no difference in the age of our U.S.workforce, but the skills profile of our employees has changeddramatically. That is why we have been, and will continue,investing heavily in employee skills and retraining—to make all ofus successful in this new era of technology.''

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If the judge allows a class action lawsuit to proceed, it couldresult in a drawn-out and costly court battle, and potentially endwith IBM paying hundreds of millions of dollars to its formeremployees, according to Michael Willemin, an employment lawyer withWigdor LLP who isn't involved in any IBM-related cases.

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From: Bloomberg

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