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Senior IBMer hit with £290k demand from Big Blue in separate case as unfair dismissal claim rolls on

High Court and Employment Tribunal cases to be heard soon

A former IBM general manager who was posted to the United Arab Emirates is being sued by the company for £290,000 after filing an employment tribunal case claiming unfair dismissal.

In its particulars of claim lodged on 10 February 2021 and recently made available by the court, Big Blue claimed that former Middle East GM Shamayun Miah should hand back two "special payments" because it sacked him within two years of paying him the cash lump sums.

Miah was paid pre-tax sums of £175,000 on 1 January 2018 and a further £100,000 on 1 January 2019, according to IBM's High Court filing. IBM has claimed he is "liable" to repay a portion of each of payment, together totalling £145,750.

A LinkedIn profile in Miah's name describes him as "the Managing Partner and General Manager for IBM's Global Business Services Middle East and Africa," adding that he "leads the region's business performance, day-to-day operations and global strategy execution in the market."

Shamayun said in the profile he was "passionate about new and emerging digital technologies that are disrupting industries and creating new business models, innovation and opportunities for transformation."

The company alleged in its filing that if Miah was sacked within two years of receiving the "special payments" (which were not described as bonuses in the court papers), "he would be obliged to repay the full amount." He is also said to be liable to repay £60,024 in housing allowances and £62,793.36 in company-guaranteed housing rental payments.

The terms of the "special payments" were said to have been spelled out in a letter signed by Miah on 14 December 2017. IBM claims he breached the terms of that agreement by refusing to repay the money.

In total the firm says he owes it £289,822.41, which includes the £145,750 for the special payments, £122,817.36 in rental and housing allowances and interest which it estimates at over £21,000.

The former VP was said to have been sacked by IBM in October 2019 with one month's notice. Miah has not, at the time of writing, filed a formal defence, and the deadline to do so expires this week.

The High Court claim is paused until early October, when Miah's unfair dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal is due to be heard.

Employment Tribunal claim

Miah had separately filed an unfair dismissal claim last year against IBM in the Employment Tribunal.

IBM asked whether the tribunal had territorial jurisdiction to hear Miah's case; Employment Judge Millard ruled in January that it did.

According to the court papers, Miah's employment tribunal final hearing is listed as taking place on 4 to 6 October, around two weeks' time at the time of writing.

The former IBMer had applied to have the high court case stayed (paused) until the Employment Tribunal proceedings were ended, but the High Court decided not to grant that application – and handed Miah a £12,000 costs bill for doing so.

IBM's labour relations have been the subject of numerous court cases around the world; in the US, various older staffers claimed that the firm was unfairly sacking them so it could slash its wage bill by hiring cheaper young replacements. In the UK, hundreds of staff sued on broadly similar grounds; the company settled the case with 281 of them a few years ago, while a handful of cases trickled through to full judgment.

And then there was the time that an IBM manager managed to bungle a redundancy selection exercise from a pool of two people and got the firm done for unfair dismissal. ®

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