June 23, 2024

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Raytheon has filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination in employment practices

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

The AARP Foundation, the charitable wing of the national advocacy group Senior Citizens, filed the case in U.S. District Court on behalf of Mark Goldstein. The lawsuit alleges that Goldstein applied to several positions at Raytheon since 2019, but was never offered an interview — “based on 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 country's largest defense contractors with 185,000 employees worldwide — favors young people in its hiring process by using phrases in its job listings such as “recent college graduate” or “recent graduate.” For some jobs in software engineering, mechanical engineering, business and other fields, the lawsuit alleges, the company also requires applicants to have a college degree and less than one or two years of work experience in order to “meet basic qualifications” — or graduate. College within the past year or two.

Raytheon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Goldstein, who had about 40 years of work experience in project management, cybersecurity, technology and other related fields, met all the requirements for the jobs for which he applied, except that he was not a recent college graduate and had more than a year or two of Experience in work.

Peter Romer Friedman, a public interest lawyer who represents Goldstein along with AARP, said tens of thousands of elderly Americans “who I saw these ads and didn't apply them because of that.” May be eligible to join the class action.

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Romer Friedman added that this is the first of similar class actions that his company intends to file against employers who allege age discrimination in employment practices.

“We made it clear that Raytheon is not the only big company doing this,” Romer-Friedman said. “We hope this lawsuit sends a strong message that it is not acceptable for Raytheon to do this, and likewise it is not acceptable for other companies, large or small, to exclude older workers through these types of ‘recent college grad’ requirements.”

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

Steve Schultz, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Raytheon, He told CNBC In 2023, recent or recent college graduates — a growing demographic at the company — made up nearly a quarter of new hires.

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

Raytheon slightly modified its job advertisements after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found evidence of discrimination, Romer Friedman said. Instead of looking for applicants who graduated within a specific time range, the lists called for recent college graduates with less than one or two years of work experience.

“It's exactly the same thing but in a different language,” Romer Friedman said. “Raytheon has been aware of these practices for several years and has not effectively changed its practices.”

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The complaint filed Tuesday also alleges that Raytheon's hiring practices violate the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act. Lawyers for the lawsuit said job seekers whose rights were violated would constitute a national class of workers with claims under state law. Raytheon moved its corporate headquarters from Waltham, Massachusetts, to Arlington, Virginia, in 2022.

Courts will decide whether other potential plaintiffs who may have sought jobs at Raytheon will be automatically included in the lawsuit or will have to opt in.

Many older workers face age discrimination in their job searches, especially at technology-related companies that prioritize “young, energetic and flexible” employees, said William Rivera, senior vice president for litigation at the AARP Foundation.

“Stop working [lots of] “Opportunities available because of people's age and experience have a very devastating impact on a lot of older workers who are trying to reenter the workforce,” Rivera said.