Judge Tosses Age Discrimination Lawsuit Against Boeing, Spirit

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A federal judge has tossed out an age discrimination lawsuit against The Boeing Co. and Spirit AeroSystems filed in the wake of Boeing's 2005 sale of commercial airplane operations in Kansas and Oklahoma.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren summarily ruled Wednesday in favor of the two aerospace giants. He found the evidence was insufficient to establish a pattern of age discrimination during the divestiture.

Former Boeing workers had sued in December 2005 claiming they lost their jobs because of their age. Their lawsuit was granted conditional class-action status a year later.

The companies had contended in seeking the lawsuits dismissal that the workers could not prove any intent to prevent older workers from attaining pension benefits.

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U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren writing in a 44-page order said:

"Noticeably lacking from plaintiff's proof is evidence showing that defendants had an age bias corporate culture or that a corporate policy of discrimination had been adopted. The absence of such evidence in this case proves to be fatal."

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Former Boeing Wichita spokesman Dick Zegler was one of the suits plaintiffs.

"Given his loyalty to Boeing and job acclamations, I can think of no other reason than my age and salary that they’d let me go."

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Spirit released a statement:

"Spirit is pleased with the court's decision to dismiss this case. The court validated what we have said all along--Spirit did not discriminate in its hiring process when the company was created 5 years ago. Spirit is an equal opportunity employer and we take it very seriously."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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