Professor of Law David Allen Larson, was interviewed for a feature story by Bloomberg News concerning the legality of a new severance agreement that International Business Machines (IBM) is offering its employees.
Workers 40 years and older are protected by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, and if a company fires two or more workers and asks them to waive age discrimination claims in exchange for a benefit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations require the contract to be “knowing and voluntary.” The offer must be easily understood, refer specifically to age-discrimination claims, allow employees at least 45 days to consider the waiver, and encourage them to seek legal counsel. It also must identify the eligibility factors, as well as titles and ages of the group of workers considered for the layoff, including those who were fired and those who weren’t. IBM is withholding the titles and age information, claiming that it does not need to comply with the disclosure requirement because it is offering workers the option of bringing claims in arbitration rather than asking for a general waiver of legal claims. The article is available on the Bloomberg News