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Is age discrimination is behind Boeing unit’s move to California?

The Boeing Company’s recent announcement that it is moving its Commercial Aviation Services unit and 1,000 engineering jobs from the Seattle area to Southern California is good news for our economy and employment picture. However, the CAS engineers, who monitor problems with aircraft and provide support to them, are obviously not happy. Moreover, their union is accusing Boeing of taking this action to get rid of older, higher-paid workers and replace them with younger, less expensive ones.

The head of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace says the union believes that age discrimination is behind the move. He also says that Boeing is using the move to avoid charges of wage discrimination. He says that SPEEA is looking into the action and contends that “if we find a violation of law, we will pursue.”

Just last month, SPEEA assisted employees of Spirit AeroSystems Inc. in filing a claim with the Federal Employment Opportunity Commission. They alleged that hundreds of workers were chosen for termination because of their age or because they had taken a sick leave. The union leader says they believe Boeing is doing something similar but “will probably be much more sophisticated about it.”

Boeing officials have denied accusations of age discrimination. One called it “a fabrication by people trying to rationalize the situation they are in.” Engineers have reportedly been given the opportunity to re-apply for their jobs, but would need to relocate to Southern California, with assistance from the company, if they get them.

Boeing’s official statement on the matter said there was “no merit” to the engineering union’s claims. It called the move “part of a long-term strategic vision” that includes “multiple engineering centers.”

Many experienced Los Angeles employees find themselves in a similar situation — replaced by younger people who will work for less money — but with no union to help them. Employment law attorneys, however, can look into the situation and advise those employees on their rights. If an action is illegal, they can help an employee fight to get their job back and/or get financial damages that will help them move on with their lives and career.

Source:  Pugot Sound Business Journal, “Boeing’s job shift to California may spur suit on age discrimination: engineers union” Steve Wilhelm, Apr. 11, 2014

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