A terminally ill IBM worker, who is suing the tech giant for failing to increase his £54,000 salary in the 15 years he has been on sick leave, said: “It’s not greedy to want a raise” when he said spoke about his fears for his family’s finances.
Ian Clifford, 50, was released in 2008 on mental health issues and was diagnosed with stage IV leukemia in 2012.
Under the company’s health insurance scheme, he had been guaranteed an annual salary of £54,000 until the age of 65, meaning he would pocket more than £1.5million.
But last year he sued the company for disability discrimination because IBM hadn’t reviewed his salary since 2013.
An employment tribunal in Reading, Berkshire, dismissed his claim and a judge told Mr Clifford he had been granted a “very substantial advantage” and “favorable treatment”.
Ian Clifford, 50, was fired from work in 2008 due to his mental health and was diagnosed with stage IV leukemia in 2012
Mr Clifford had received a £54,000 guarantee until the age of 65 under IBM’s health insurance scheme
Speaking for the first time since the judgement, Mr Clifford said the chance of him living past 65 was “highly unlikely”, adding that he wanted to make sure his son was cared for.
“I’ve been on chemotherapy for many years and I’m extremely poor,” he said The Telegraph.
“Your salary affects your debt service, your pension and everything else, it was more for my family.”
“People may think, yes, that’s generous, but first of all, these amounts are gross and not taxed … I pay Social Security on these amounts.”
‘I have a son [who is] off to university. “Your mortgage doesn’t go down because you’re sick.”
Mr Clifford began working for US software company Lotus Development in 2000, shortly after it was bought by IBM in June 1995 for around £3 billion.
He was on sick leave in September 2008 until he filed a complaint in 2013, protesting that he had not received a raise or holiday pay in that five-year period.
In April 2013, IBM offered a “compromise agreement” that allowed Mr Clifford to be included in the company’s disability plan, which prevents an incapacitated person from being laid off.
Under the plan, employees remain on payroll and have “no obligation” to work.
They are entitled to 75 percent of their agreed earnings until they recover, retire or die.
Mr Clifford’s agreed salary was £72,037, leaving him £54,028 after deduction.
The plan lasted for more than 30 years until he reached the retirement age of 65.
IBM, less known as International Business Machines Corporation, is an American multinational technology company headquartered in New York with offices around the world
He was also paid £8,685 to settle his holiday pay grievances in 2013 and agreed never to make a grievance on the same issues again.
In February 2022, he sued the tech giant in a labor court with new disability claims similar to his previous claims.
In a bid to sue IBM, he said it has been “disadvantaged” since the disability plan began and has not received a pay rise.
He further complained that he was not entitled to leave and compared himself to a able-bodied worker who was paid full wages on leave.
Mr Clifford tried to argue that if inflation was above 10 per cent, the value of the payments would soon dry up.
He said: “The whole point of the plan was to provide security for disabled employees – that wasn’t achieved if payments were frozen forever.”
Labor Judge Paul Housego dismissed his case.
Judge Housego said: “The charge is that the lack of a pay rise constitutes discrimination on the basis of disability, as it is less favorable treatment than for non-disabled people.”
“This claim is not tenable as only disabled people can benefit from the plan.” It is not discrimination on the basis of disability that the plan is not even more generous.
“Even if the value of the £50,000 a year has halved over 30 years, that’s still a very significant benefit.”
“However, that is not the issue as, fundamentally, the terms of a benefit that is granted to disabled people and not available to non-disabled people cannot be inferior treatment in the context of a disability.”
“It’s a cheaper treatment, not less.”
A LinkedIn profile of Mr Clifford said he was from the Guildford area and was “medically retired”.
Mr Clifford, who always considered himself a “corporate man”, said he had spent more than £30,000 seeking legal action against IBM and insisted it was necessary as a last resort.
He claimed the tech giant made two separate offers to the sick worker before taking the case to court.
Mr Clifford has now appealed the court ruling.
IBM, less known as International Business Machines Corporation, is an American multinational technology company headquartered in New York with offices around the world.
Nicknamed “Big Blue,” the tech giant has a presence in over 175 companies and works to leverage technology to support business needs.
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