IBM Wins Disability Discrimination Case as UK Tribunal Dismisses Employee’s Claims of Pay Discrimination


In a recent ruling, an employment tribunal in Reading, UK, has sided with IBM in a case filed against the tech giant by an employee, Ian Clifford, who alleged disability discrimination. Clifford, who has been on sick leave since September 2008 and describes himself as “medically retired” on his LinkedIn profile, claimed that IBM failed to provide him with a pay raise for nearly five years and denied him holiday pay. However, the tribunal judge, Paul Housego, dismissed Clifford’s grievances and found in favor of IBM.

Clifford’s main contention was that the salary he received under the IBM Health Plan was not sufficiently generous and would diminish over time due to inflation. Under the plan, Clifford, working as a System Architect, was earning £54,000 per year (equivalent to ₹55 lakh) and was guaranteed a salary until the age of 65. The plan also provided job protection for individuals unable to work, allowing them to remain employed without the obligation to perform any duties.

Judge Housego rejected Clifford’s argument, stating that benefits provided to disabled individuals, which are not available to non-disabled individuals, cannot be considered less favorable treatment based on disability. The judge emphasized that such benefits are, in fact, more favorable treatment. Consequently, the tribunal dismissed Clifford’s case. IBM, a prominent technology company, successfully defended itself against the allegations of disability discrimination brought forth by Clifford. The outcome of this case highlights the complexities surrounding disability-related claims and the importance of carefully evaluating the nature of benefits provided to disabled employees.


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