IBM or International Business Machines Corp. is being accused of ageism by former employees who claim that they were fired because of their age. The technology company now faces a class-action lawsuit that was filed on Monday.

Bloomberg reports that Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer who has handled cases against tech giants over their treatment of their workers, filed the suit in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of three ex-employees of IBM. 

In their lawsuit, the former IBM workers alleged that the company sacked them because of their age. “Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce,” the complainants stated.

The suit cites a ProPublica report that was published in March of this year. The report apparently exposed IBM for firing more than 20,000 employees who are over 40 years of age in the last six years. The same report asserted that IBM has systematically broken age-discrimination rules in its firing practices. 

IBM has since responded to the ageism accusation. The company maintains that it has fired thousands of people from the U.S., Canada, and other places because it was cutting costs and retooling its workforce since it was rather late in joining the cloud computing and mobile tech markets 

“Changes in our workforce are about skills, not age,” IBM spokesman Ed Barbini said in an email. “In fact, since 2010 there is no difference in the age of our U.S. workforce, but the skills profile of our employees has changed dramatically. That is why we have been and will continue investing heavily in employee skills and retraining — to make all of us successful in this new era of technology.”

A judge is going to decide if the class-action lawsuit will proceed to a court battle. Should the complainants win the case if it were to proceed, IBM could end up paying millions of dollars to the employees it fired over its alleged ageism. 

Liss-Riordan, who is a partner at Boston-based Lichten & Liss-Riordan, previously represented employees against big companies including Google, Amazon and Uber. 

IBM IBM has been sued over claims that it is discriminating against older employees. Photo: Reuters/Charles Platiau