Former Boeing employees sue for age discrimination

Tuesday, December 20th 2005, 10:42 am
By: News On 6

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Dozens of former Boeing Co. employees filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the aerospace giant and the buyers of its commercial aircraft operations in Kansas and Oklahoma, alleging age discrimination.

The 75 named plaintiffs in the case are seeking class-action status, and as many as 300 former workers have agreed to be part of the suit, attorney Lawrence Williamson Jr. said.

The other named defendants are the Canadian firm Onex Corp. and its Wichita-based subsidiary, Spirit Aerosystems Inc.

Boeing spokesman Tim Neale said the company had not received a copy of the complaint and declined immediate comment. Spirit Aerosystems spokesman Fred Solis also said the company had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. Its parent company, Onex, did not return a call for comment.

The workers are seeking their jobs back, along with unspecified compensatory damages and at least $1.5 billion in punitive damages.

After the sale, more-qualified older workers were terminated while younger workers were hired by the new company, Williamson said.

Of 930 workers older than age 50, nearly 14 percent _ or 130 _ were not offered jobs. That compares to only 10 of the 215 workers under age 40, or 4 percent, who were not offered jobs, according to the complaint.

``We believe age was a motivating factor in decisions made,'' Williamson said.

The lawsuit filed in Wichita also alleges the company retaliated by not hiring some women who had complained about discrimination and employees who had filed workers compensation or disability claims.

It also charges the companies did not keep required personnel records, and that some workers were terminated just months or weeks before they would have been vested in their pensions.