Man on 15-Year Sick Leave Sues IBM for Not Getting Raises

British IBM employee Ian Clifford, 50, sued his company for disability discrimination. His argument was that while IBM’s sickness-and-accident plan gave him 75% of his £72,037.44 salary (which translates to £54,028 or approximately $67,684 USD), said rate never rose since 2013, five years into his sick leave when he officially joined the plan. As a result, Clifford argued the payments did not account for inflation and, thus, he was being discriminated against for his status by way of unfair treatment.

The presiding judge of the case threw it out on the grounds that the plan in and of itself gave preferable treatment to the disabled over those who weren’t disabled, affording the former group substantial financial benefit in exchange for no work. (The judgment can be seen here.)

It’s also noted that IBM never promised Clifford continual sick leave raises, nor was that a part of their contractual obligations to him.

As such, the judge decided that IBM’s behavior was, in fact, not discriminatory, given the sum being paid to Clifford as sick leave pay. The judge felt the opposite was true, that Clifford was being treated more favorably than other workers, not less.

The case also struck out on the basis that other claims were not seen as justified, including the claim that there was underpayment of holiday pay. As noted by the judge, “the Claimant was paid for all 52 weeks of every year at his reduced full salary.”

According to The Telegraph, Clifford has appealed the decision, wanting to be able to provide financial security for his family amid inflation despite stagnant wages. He’s reportedly seeking a raise of 2.5%.

In related news, tech industry workers in general are suffering the fallout of a rough economic climate, with median pay having decreased for workers in the sector during 2022. Despite that, Big Tech’s been doing well for itself in recent quarters, balancing industry-wide layoffs with strong revenue hauls.

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