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IBM on the Defense as Race Bias Case Progresses

by Matthew Lee | Class Action | Share

On March 1, 2021, The Honorable Marsha J. Pechman denied IBM’s motion for summary judgment on all of Scott Kingston’s claims, putting the case on track for a remote trial by Zoom starting April 5, 2021. Scott Kingston alleges he was terminated in retaliation for protesting IBM’s decision to cap the commission of a Black employee on a large deal only weeks after the company paid a white employee in full on a similarly sized deal.

Judge Pechman rejected IBM’s argument that it had shown a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing Scott Kingston writing “IBM has therefore yet to articulate a reason for terminating plaintiff that is consistent with its own policies.”

“This was a confused process where plaintiff — who followed IBM’s written policies to the letter —was terminated for failing to violate those policies,” she added, concluding that “a reasonable fact-finder could determine that IBM’s proffered reasons for terminating plaintiff are pretextual.”

The firm of Whitfield Bryson LLP has filed a number of cases against IBM related to these practices over the last 5 years, including two class actions. In three of the cases, IBM is alleged to have fired sales managers for protesting the company’s decision to cap the commissions of sales employees.

“We’re pleased with the order and look forward to telling Scott’s story to a jury,” said Whitfield Bryson, LLP’s Matthew E. Lee. “We intend to prove that IBM cannot articulate a reason for firing Scott that is consistent with its own policies.”

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington is one of few federal courts around the country that has found a strategy for trying civil cases safely during the pandemic. The court has worked practically and creatively to keep the wheels of justice turning, overcoming unprecedented challenges.

Scott Kingston is represented by Jeremy R. Williams and Matthew E. Lee of Whitfield Bryson LLP and Brittany J. Glass and Toby James Marshall of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC.

The case is Scott Kingston v. International Business Machines Corp., case number 2:19-cv-01488, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

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Matthew Lee

Partner

Matt handles complex litigation, primarily construction defect, product liability, business disputes, and wrongful death cases, and has secured substantial verdicts and settlements in a variety of matters, including multi-million dollar verdicts for homeowners associations in construction defect litigation and large settlements in wrongful death and product liability cases.

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Cambridge, Maryland
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