WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A law firm is accusing Boeing Co. and Onex Corp., the Canadian investment firm buying Boeing's plants in Wichita and in Oklahoma, of targeting older workers for layoffs resulting from the deal.
Lawrence Williamson, a lawyer with Shores, Williamson & Ohaebosim, sent letters to Boeing and to Onex (TSX:OCX), notifying them of his firm's plans to file a class-action lawsuit alleging age discrimination.
The sale of Boeing's commercial aircraft division was expected to go through on Thursday, creating a new company called Mid-Western Aircraft Systems.
Williamson's letter said the deal has "targeted and led to the illegal displacement of individuals above the age of 40."
Williamson sent a second letter to Boeing employees who might be covered by the class action. It said his firm plans to file an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday.
By law, he said, the plaintiffs must wait until 60 days after the filing of the EEOC complaint to sue.
In preparation for the transition to the new company, Boeing issued layoff notices to all employees in its commercial aircraft plants in Kansas and Oklahoma. Onex made job offers two weeks ago, but about 1,100 workers were told they would not be retained.
No lead plaintiff has been designated, and Williamson said he does not know how many Boeing workers who were not offered jobs with Mid-Western Aircraft Systems will join the lawsuit.
"We think it's going to be quite a few individuals," he said.
Nigel Wright, Onex's managing director, declined to comment about the allegations.
Craig Martin, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, said, "It would be inappropriate to speculate on something that may occur in the future."
Last week, a labour union at the Wichita plant filed two grievances with Boeing over layoffs stemming from the sale.
The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the second-largest union at the Wichita plant, claims the layoffs were made without regard to the retention process specified by the union contract. It also alleges that Boeing did not follow procedures to protect union officials by putting them in the top retention group.