Engineers file complaint against Boeing, claiming age discrimination

The union representing Boeing's engineers has filed a federal complaint against the company, alleging age discrimination.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, filed the charges Wednesday with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Washington State Human Rights Commission after a months-long investigation.

“The evidence is overwhelming that Boeing hatched and implemented a scheme to engage in age discrimination on a breathtaking scale,” said Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, in a union news release.

“The scheme involved secret manipulation of the retention ranking factors used to determine layoff order for employees. This illegal manipulation doubled, tripled, and quadrupled layoff vulnerability for older employees compared to previous years. The company then announced a series of work movements and reorganizations to implement the manipulated layoff order," he said.

A Boeing Co. spokesman Thursday called the complaint "baseless," saying the company does not discriminate against its employees on any basis.

"Diversifying our engineering workforce reflects changes in our business and is not related to the age of our employees," said spokesman Doug Alder. "We’re disappointed that SPEEA filed this baseless complaint."

Since initial reports of layoffs last year totaling more than 1,000 manufacturing jobs, that number has grown to more than 2,500 with projections of up to 4,500 by 2016, according to the SPEEA release.

Goforth said the business case for what he called the dismantling and disbursement of an experienced engineering workforce "laughably superficial."

"Here is the explanation that makes sense. The disbursement of work to Russia, India and domestic ‘centers of excellence’ is merely a pretext for the wholesale purge of Boeing’s older workforce," he said.

Tukwila-based SPEEA represents more than 25,000 employees in Washington, Kansas, Oregon, Utah, California and Florida, at The Boeing Co., Spirit AeroSystems and Triumph Composite Systems.


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