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Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Raytheon sued for age discrimination in recruiting practices

By meerna Jun12,2024

A 67-year-old Virginia man sued Raytheon for age discrimination on Tuesday, alleging that the aerospace giant illegally favors recent college graduates over older workers in its hiring process.

The AARP Foundation, the charitable wing of a national advocacy group for the elderly, filed the case in U.S. District Court on behalf of Mark Goldstein. The lawsuit alleges that Goldstein applied for multiple positions at Raytheon since 2019 but was never offered an interview — “due to his age.” The AARP Foundation is seeking to have the lawsuit become a class action on behalf of other potential plaintiffs.

The complaint says Raytheon — one of the nation’s largest defense contractors, with 185,000 employees worldwide — favors young people in its recruiting process by using phrases such as “recent college graduate” or “new graduate” in its job offers. For some positions in software engineering, mechanical engineering, business and other fields, the lawsuit says, the company requires applicants to have a college degree and less than one or two years of work experience to “meet basic qualifications” – or to complete a degree in over the last year or two.

Chris Johnson, a spokesman for RTX Corporation, which owns Raytheon, in a statement called the claims “completely baseless” and added that the company “complies with all applicable age discrimination laws and is committed to maintaining a diverse workforce.”

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“We will actively defend our hiring practices,” Johnson said.

Goldstein, who had approximately 40 years of experience in project management, cybersecurity, technology and other relevant areas, met all the requirements for the positions he applied for except that he was not a recent college graduate and had over that they have one or two years of professional experience.

Peter Romer-Friedman, a public interest lawyer representing Goldstein alongside the AARP Foundation, said that tens of thousands of older Americans “who I saw these ads and for this reason I did not take advantage of the offer” could be eligible to join a class action lawsuit.

Romer-Friedman added that this is the first of similar class action lawsuits his company plans to bring against employers based on age discrimination in hiring practices.

“We have sent a clear message that Raytheon is not the only major company doing this,” Romer-Friedman said. “We hope this lawsuit sends a clear message that Raytheon cannot do this, just as it is not OK for other companies, large or small, to exclude older workers under this type of ‘recent college graduate’ requirement.

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age against certain job applicants and employees who are 40 years of age or older.

Steve Schultz, global head of talent acquisition at Raytheon, told CNBC in 2023 that about a quarter of new hires are new or new college graduates – a growing demographic at the company.

The lawsuit follows a 2021 finding by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces civil rights in the workplace, that Raytheon’s practices of hiring recent college graduates violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967. This finding was issued in response to a discrimination complaint filed by Goldstein against Raytheon with the EEOC in 2019.

Romer-Friedman stated that Raytheon slightly modified its job advertisements after the EEOC found evidence of discrimination. Instead of looking for candidates who graduated within a certain date range, the rolls looked for college graduates who had less than one or two years of work experience.

“It’s exactly the same thing, just in a different language,” Romer-Friedman said. “Raytheon has highlighted these practices for several years and has not effectively changed them.”

The complaint filed Tuesday also alleged that Raytheon’s hiring practices violate the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act. Job seekers whose rights have been violated will create a national class of workers with claims under state law, lawyers for the lawsuit say. In 2022, Raytheon moved its headquarters from Waltham, Massachusetts to Arlington, Virginia.

The courts will decide whether other potential plaintiffs who may have sought employment with Raytheon will be automatically included in the lawsuit or whether they will have to opt-in.

William Rivera, senior vice president of litigation at the AARP Foundation, said many older workers face age discrimination when looking for a job, especially at tech companies that value “young, energetic and agile” workers.

“Cutting off (many) job opportunities based on a person’s age and experience has a truly devastating impact on many older workers trying to re-enter the workforce,” Rivera said.

By meerna

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