IBM sued for bullying, sexual harassment


A former senior sales consultant who worked in for IBM in Melbourne has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against the technology giant for sexual harassment, unlawful discrimination and bullying, noting she feels “worthless” after an alleged ordeal at the company she had formerly put on a “pedestal”.

“IBM takes any matters of this nature very seriously. As we’ve not yet seen the claim, we are unable to comment at this time,” an IBM spokesperson said in response.

In an emotional statement issued through her lawyer, the un-named executive claimed a senior IBM manager, who no longer works for the company, used to “scream at me every day”. “I just feel worthless. I feel I have no future now. I can’t get a job. I feel I’m not worth anything anymore,” she said.

A statement issued by the staff member’s law firm, Maurice Blackburn, said the executive had been a high-performing member of IBM’s team, earning more than $150,000 a year and regularly taking home bonuses of several thousand dollars per month. However, since the events, she had twice attempted suicide.

“She did her job very well until the appointment of a new senior manager, who systematically harassed and bullied her,” Maurice Blackburn special counsel Siobhan Keating said, claiming that the new manager had rubbed himself against the female staff member as he walked past her workstation, made lewd and sexual comments, and placed his hand on her leg and up her dress several times at an evening function.

Bullying behaviour allegedly included yelling and abuse, name calling, unreasonable work demands, repeated late night calls and threats and intimidation.

“Despite complaining to four managers, and our client’s obvious and visible distress which was affecting her performance, no action was taken for almost 18 months. IBM’s inaction is impossible to understand,” Maurice Blackburn wrote, noting the claim would take place in the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“The attitude of IBM in the face of these serious allegations, including repeatedly turning a ‘blind eye’, urging our client not to make a formal complaint, and not wanting to be told of details, exacerbated the damage to our client’s career and health and pushed our client to the edge.”

The law firm described IBM’s approach as “corporate inaction” and “trying to sweep the issues under the carpet”.

Image credit: Jason Morrison, royalty free