IBM sues Microsoft's new diversity chief to enforce non-compete agreement

Microsoft yesterday announced the hiring of Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, a former IBM HR leader, as its new chief diversity officer. IBM has now sued to stop McIntyre's move, claiming that it violates a non-comete agreement.

According to the suit, reported by GeekWire, IBM says McIntyre was one of its "most senior executives with knowledge of IBM's most closely guarded and competitively sensitive strategic plans and recruitment initiatives." The suit claims that it would be "inevitable" for McIntyre to employ confidential recruiting strategies used by IBM to go after similar talent at Microsoft.

As part of its filing, IBM cited Microsoft's own arguments in a previous discrimination suit in which it argued in favor of keeping its own diversity data secret.

In court filings responding to the suit, reported by Bloomberg, McIntyre's lawyers called the non-competition clause "overbroad." The filing added, "IBM surprisingly seeks a draconian temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent McIntyre from working -- for an entire year, in any position, anywhere in the world, for any company IBM deems to be a 'competitor' in any dimension."

For now, McIntyre has been temporarily barred from assuming her position at Microsoft by a U.S. District judge. A conference has been scheduled for February 22.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

15 Comments
  • Just kick this Diversity Chief out already!
  • I think IBM is right in this case. What Microsoft is doing is never allowed in the cooperate environment, wasn't supposed to be employed by Microsoft in the first place.
  • That is actually not true.  Right-to-work trumps non-compete every time.  This will most likely get thrown out especially if the non-compete is not specific enough.
  • Generally non-compete clauses are very broad, vast and vague by nature. That's deliberate as it gives a company wiggle room to make their "own definitions". Most company contracts don't include a definitions section. Furthermore they are often buried in some obscure section or clause or part of clause as a sub clause. I've seen plenty whilst working in property management and it's a disheartening policy. Such policies should be thrown out as not only impacts a person's livelihood but their family and people.around them. These policies aren't really questioned as when you finally get the job after going through several hoops and stages, you just want to work and make a good impression. In addition questioning such policies can be misconstrued as maligned intent and non committal to your new job. Thus these policies will continue to exist unless there is widespread movement to remove such clauses and corporate bullying.
  • Non-competing... in diversity? Very strange. It's not just us then, clearly IBM are also concerned that Microsoft has its sights set on becoming IBM v2.0.
  • If IBM had closely guarded and competitively sensitive strategic plans, it should have made it public to bask in its own glory, similar to patenting in tech. What IBM is doing these days anyway?
  • What a weird thing to get antsy about. "She's too diverse and inclusive! Only IBM can be that diverse and inclusive!"
  • Stupid jobs lead to stupid lawsuits.
    If Microsoft would stop pandering to the ridiculous SJWs this wouldn't happen because pathetic positions like "Chief Diversity Officer" wouldn't exist. People would be hired based on skills and not on the need to fill up "diversity quotas".
  • This has nothing to do with her job itself and everything to do with non-compete clauses at the executive level.
  • You really don't know anything about CDOs
  • I agree with DJCBS on this.  Please enlighten us exactly what this postiion consists of at both IBM and Microsoft that the head of HR could not do. 
  • People from various backgrounds can be skilled and multi talented. The reason such a post exists is to prevent favouritism and the fallacy of who-you-know recruitment not based on skills and merits.
  • How is that different from HR, who is responsible for EEO? I agree, it's a pointless and redundant title.
  • It's a safety valve, granted it may appear pointless. Also it gives the head of HR some breathing room, a person can't be expected to do everything.
  • It doesn't matter what the position title is, that's not the issue here.