University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Syverson v. International Business Machines Corporation EE-CA-0304
Docket / Court 03-cv-04529 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On October 7, 2003, a group of former employees filed suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act ("OWBPA"), 29 U.S.C. § 626(f), against International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in United States District Court ... read more >
On October 7, 2003, a group of former employees filed suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act ("OWBPA"), 29 U.S.C. § 626(f), against International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in United States District Court of the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory, injunctive and compensatory relief as well as double damages, alleging that IBM discriminated against its older employees. Specifically, the plaintiffs contend that IBM held a pattern and practice of discrimination in both individual terminations and involuntary group terminations, known as Resource Actions. Syverson v. International Business Machines Corporation, 2904252 WL 1 (N.D.C.A. 2007).

Each of the named plaintiffs, with one exception, had signed a general termination covenant agreeing not to sue the company. These releases were considered binding, and were intended by IBM as a means to prevent this type of litigation. The plaintiffs claim these waivers had a disparate impact on them.

On February 12, 2004, IBM filed a counterclaim against the plaintiffs, seeking attorney's fees for all the proceedings under this litigation. IBM further demanded a jury trial for these proceedings. (Counterclaim, page 2).

On May 4, 2004, the Court (Judge Whyte) granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and denied the plaintiffs motion to dismiss the counterclaim. Syverson v. International Business Machines Corporation, 27844 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1 (N.D.C.A. 2004). The plaintiffs appealed this decision. This Ninth Circuit accepted the case, but took an enormously long time to come to a decision.

On August 31, 2006, the United States Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit (Judge Berzon, Judge Callahan, Judge Rawlinson) reversed the District Court's decision, vacated the decision on the counterclaim and remanded the case back to the District. The Circuit Court ruled that under the OWBPA, employees may not waive their right to sue unless they do so "knowingly and voluntarily." The Court stated that IBM's waiver was not written in a clear and calculated manner, thus, the "knowingly" standard was not met, and plaintiffs case still had merit. Syverson v. International Business Machines Corporation, 461 F.3d 1149 (9th Circuit. 2006). The defendant appealed this decision by the Circuit Court, asking for a rehearing en banc.

On January 12, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit (Judge Berzon, Judge Callahan, Judge Rawlinson) denied the defendant's appeal. However, in this decision, with the consent of both parties, the Court modified its previous decision on the defendant's counterclaim. Syverson v. International Business Machines Corporation, 472 F.3d 1087 (9th Circuit. 2007).

On October 3, 2007, the District Court (Judge Whyte) granted the defendant's motion to dismiss certain claims. The Court dismissed the plaintiffs first claim under the OWBPA with prejudice and dismissed the plaintiffs disparate impact claim regarding individual terminations. Syverson v. International Business Machines Corporation, 2904252 WL 6 (N.D.C.A. 2007). The plaintiffs the moved to amend their complaint, and on November 6, 2007, filed their Third Amended Complaint. The parties then engaged in extensive discovery.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a) (voluntary dismissal), the Court dismissed the case with prejudice on January 29, 2009. Each party was to bear his own costs in the litigation.

Haley Waller - 10/29/2010


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
General
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq.
Defendant(s) International Business Machines Corporation
Plaintiff Description older former employees of IBM
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:03−cv−04529 (N.D. Cal.) 10/07/2003
EE-CA-0304-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
5:03-cv-04529-RMW (N.D. Cal.) 11/05/2009
EE-CA-0304-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Counterclaim 02/12/2004
EE-CA-0304-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO DISMISS DEFENDANT’S COUNTERCLAIM; MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO DISMISS 03/16/2004
EE-CA-0304-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS’ FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND 04/02/2004
EE-CA-0304-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO DISMISS IBM’S COUNTERCLAIM 04/09/2004
EE-CA-0304-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order dismissing plaintiff's motion and granting defendant's motion to dismiss 05/04/2004 (2004 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 27844) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0304-0011.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO APPROVE NOTICE OF ACTION, TO CERTIFY CLASS FOR PURPOSES OF COUNT I OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT, AND TO COMPEL IBM TO PROVIDE NAMES, ADDRESSES, & DATES OF BIRTH OF SIMILARLY SITUATED EMPLOYEES 12/01/2004
EE-CA-0304-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appeals Court decision reversing, vacating and remanding District Court's decision 08/31/2006 (461 F.3d 1147)
EE-CA-0304-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Appeals Court reversing and remanding District Court's decision 01/03/2007 (472 F.3d 1072)
EE-CA-0304-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order granting defendant's motion to dismiss 10/03/2007 (2007 WL 2904252) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0304-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Third Amended Complaint 11/06/2007 (2007 WL 4835904)
EE-CA-0304-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE 01/29/2009 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0304-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Berzon, Marsha Siegel (Ninth Circuit)
EE-CA-0304-0008 | EE-CA-0304-0009 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Callahan, Consuelo Maria (Ninth Circuit)
EE-CA-0304-0008 | EE-CA-0304-0009 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Rawlinson, Johnnie B. (D. Nev., Ninth Circuit)
EE-CA-0304-0008 | EE-CA-0304-0009 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Trumbull, Patricia V. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Whyte, Ronald M. (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-0010 | EE-CA-0304-0011 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baller, Morris J. (California)
EE-CA-0304-0001 | EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Demchak, Teresa (California)
EE-CA-0304-0001 | EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Jesinger, Robert E. (California)
EE-CA-0304-0004 | EE-CA-0304-0005 | EE-CA-0304-0006 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
McTeague, Patrick (Maine)
EE-CA-0304-0001 | EE-CA-0304-0004 | EE-CA-0304-0005 | EE-CA-0304-0006 | EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Mills, Heather Marie (California)
EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Platten, Christopher Eugene (California)
EE-CA-0304-0001 | EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Young, Jeffrey Neil (Maine)
EE-CA-0304-0001 | EE-CA-0304-0004 | EE-CA-0304-0005 | EE-CA-0304-0006 | EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Agenbroad, Aaron L. (California)
EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Harper, Kerri N. (California)
EE-CA-0304-0002 | EE-CA-0304-0003 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Lovitt, Traci L. (New York)
EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Marshall, Alison B. (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Nager, Glen David (District of Columbia)
EE-CA-0304-0007 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Wohl, Jeffrey D. (California)
EE-CA-0304-0002 | EE-CA-0304-0003 | EE-CA-0304-9000 | EE-CA-0304-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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