IBM’s Red Hat Sued for Firing 21 White Men for Diversity

By: Georgia | Published: May 10, 2024

IBM’s software subsidiary Red Hat is facing a lawsuit from a former sales chief and 20 other white men.

The suit alleges discrimination during a diversity initiative aimed at increasing hires among women and African Americans.

The Heart of the Lawsuit

Allan Kingsley Wood claims he was terminated due to race and gender discrimination stemming from Red Hat’s DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) program.

A bustling technology conference booth for Red Hat, filled with attendees wearing signature red hats. The booth features prominent Red Hat branding and is surrounded by other tech company displays.

Source: Red Hat/Facebook

This program set specific hiring targets for minorities and women.


Big Names in the Legal Battle

The lawsuit was spearheaded by America First Legal, led by Stephen Miller, a former Trump administration official.

A close-up of a formal business setting where a man in a suit is handing over a pen to another person across the table

Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

This lawsuit is part of AFL’s broader legal campaign against what it sees as unlawful DEI practices in corporations, colleges, and the military sectors.

IBM’s Commitment to Diversity

A leaked 2021 recording shows IBM CEO Arvind Krishna emphasizing the importance of diversity targets.

A nighttime view of a vintage IBM datacentre entrance brightly lit with orange lights. The IBM logo is prominently displayed above the entrance, with a couple standing outside

Source: IBM/Facebook

The statement even revealed that executives who failed to meet these goals would face consequences.

Public Shock Over IBM's Diversity Policies

According to Stephen Miller, “Americans were shocked and horrified” when the video was leaked, showing IBM’s alleged “illegal race-based discrimination.” 

Three professionals, two women and one man, engaging in a discussion around a laptop in a colorful office setting

Source: IBM/Facebook

This video brought significant public attention to IBM’s diversity hiring practices.

Goals of the Lawsuit

Stephen Miller explained the goals of the lawsuit.

A group photo of the Red Hat team at a conference, celebrating with the '2023 Partner of the Year Award' sign

Source: Red Hat/Facebook

He said, “We are taking action on behalf of a courageous plaintiff against his former employer, filing a lawsuit in federal court to get justice for our client and to stop this flagrantly lawless and bigoted conduct.”


Red Hat's Global Presence and DEI Focus

Red Hat, based in North Carolina, employs approximately 19,000 people.

A casual and cheerful gathering at the Red Hat conference booth

Source: Red Hat/Facebook

They are based across 35 countries.


Lawsuit Details

The 37-page lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Idaho, argues that Red Hat appointed a DEI tsar.

A presenter speaking at the Modern Application Development Roadshow hosted by Red Hat and Intel

Source: Red Hat/Facebook

Following this, they aggressively pushed for diversity following the social justice movements triggered by the killing of George Floyd.


Quotas for Workforce Demographic Changes

The lawsuit documents Red Hat’s stated objectives to remake its workforce demographic.

A panel discussion at the Red Hat Open Tour event featuring four speakers seated in front of an audience

Source: Red Hat/Facebook

They aim to reach 30 percent women globally and 30 percent associates of color in the United States by 2028.


Plaintiff’s Opposition to DEI Policies

Allan Kingsley Wood, the primary plaintiff, opposed the firm’s DEI policies due to his religious and political views. 

A top-down view of four diverse hands together on a wooden table, symbolizing unity and teamwork

Source: Clay Banks/Unsplash

He advocated for hiring based on merit and skill rather than other immutable characteristics.


Consequences of Opposition

Two weeks after voicing his opposition, Wood was informed that his job, along with 21 other staff positions, primarily held by white men, was being eliminated

A woman posing at the entrance of the Red Hat Summit, with a large Red Hat logo installation

Source: Red Hat/Facebook

The lawsuit alleges that this was a retaliatory action for his expressed views.


Ongoing Legal Challenges Against DEI

The Daily Mail notes that this lawsuit is part of a growing trend of legal actions challenging DEI initiatives,  particularly following the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action in college admissions in June 2023.

A clear and sunny view of the front of the United States Supreme Court building, showing the grand architecture and steps leading up to the main entrance

Source: Wikimedia Commons

AFL has filed over 30 complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against similar practices across various organizations.