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Chrissie Cole
Chrissie Cole
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IBM Gender-Discrimination Lawsuit Settled

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IBM has settled a federal discrimination lawsuit that was filed by a former employee who alleged she was fired because of her gender. Jodie Ross, worked at IBM for 23 years at its offices in Fishkill, New York and Essex Junction until managers in 2004 accused her of inappropriate conduct during an audit at the Vermont facility.

Ross managed a department that oversaw $300 million in inventory, alleging that IBM treated her differently than the male workers who acted similarly and were able to keep their jobs. IBM denied wrongdoing and defended their reasons for firing Ross.

The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed in a one-sentence filing dated on January 4th in U.S. District Court that announced the agreement and ended the gender discrimination case. The documents did say Ross and IBM agreed to pay their own costs and legal fees.

The settlement came about after both sides met with a mediator in December and a few weeks ahead of a potential trial this month that would have convened had Ross and IBM failed to reach an agreement. In her lawsuit, Ross had sought an unspecified amount of monetary damages, interest, attorneys fees and also court costs.

Settlements of lawsuits such as Ross’ typically include confidentiality agreements, and resolutions rarely require companies to admit wrongdoing. Ross’ allegations arose from an incident during a company audit in January 2004. She created a checklist of procedures her department followed to track its inventory, then signed and dated the document for that year and two previous years, according to court papers.

She and the company disagreed about her intent. Ross argued she dated the paperwork simply to show that the procedures were in place during those years. IBM contended the backdating was designed to give the auditor the misleading impression that the document existed and had been used in the past.

A male counterpart — who created a similar checklist but gave it a current date — was allowed to explain his actions to the auditor, but Ross was not, according to court papers. Ross also cited a previous incident in which male employees were reprimanded but not dismissed for backdating a document during an audit.