IBM has responded to a lawsuit filed against it on Friday by a former saleswoman at the company, refuting claims it had failed to act following the employee’s allegations of sexual harassment by a senior manager.
In a statement emailed to Computerworld Australia, the computing giant claimed it had conducted an investigation into the matter when the issue was raised 18 months ago, and placed several remediation measures, including “substantial” paid leave and support programs.
"IBM takes any allegations of this nature very seriously,” the statement reads. “We insist on a non-discriminatory workplace and we do not tolerate harassment of any type.
“We look forward to this matter being resolved swiftly and in the interests of all concerned."
The response follows a claim filed to the Australian Human Rights Commission on Friday by Melbourne-based compensation lawyers Maurice Blackburn on behalf of its client, the former IBM sales consultant.
According to the law firm, the senior manager accused of harassing the complainant rubbed himself against the woman as well as making comments such as “if you get your breasts out, you will get more sales”.
The former female employee in question was also allegedly subject to repeated bullying, including yelling abuse, name calling, threats and intimidation, “unreasonable work demands” and calls late at night.
The woman sought $1.1 million in damages from the computing giant, claiming the company had failed to act on the allegations 18 months after first filed by the employee.
The statement issued by IBM indicated the company had moved to remediate the issue following an investigation.
The senior manager no longer works for IBM.
The former employee said in a statement on Friday that she had complained to four managers superior to the one she claimed was harassing her, to no avail.
“The worst part about it is his managers all knew and did nothing about it,” she said. “I used to be an outstanding performer, number one achiever, and then he came and that was it.
"I used to try so hard so he wouldn't scream at me and then I couldn't do it anymore.”
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