Raytheon sued for age discrimination in hiring

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

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

The complaint states that Raytheon — one of the nation’s largest defense contractors with 185,000 employees worldwide — gives preference to young people in its hiring process by using phrases like “recently graduated from college” or “new graduates” in its job listings. The lawsuit claims that for some positions in software engineering, mechanical engineering, business and other fields, the company also requires applicants to have a college degree and less than one or two years of work experience to “meet the basic qualifications” — or must have graduated from college within the past one or two years.

Raytheon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The complaint alleges that Goldstein has nearly 40 years of experience working in project management, cybersecurity, technology and other relevant fields. He met all the qualifications for the positions he applied for, except that he was not a recent college graduate and had more than a year or two of work experience.

Peter Romer-Friedman, a public interest attorney representing Goldstein with the AARP Foundation, said that thousands of elderly Americans “who I have seen these advertisements and hence have not applied” May be eligible to join in collective action.

Romer-Friedman said this is the first of other similar class-action lawsuits his firm intends to file against employers alleging age discrimination in hiring practices.

“We’ve been very clear that Raytheon is not the only major company doing this,” Romer-Friedman said. “We hope this lawsuit sends a strong message that it’s not okay for Raytheon to do this, and likewise it’s not okay for other companies, large or small, to exclude older workers with these kinds of ‘recent college graduation’ requirements.”

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

Steve Schultz, Raytheon’s global head of talent acquisition, told CNBC In 2023, new or recent college graduates — a growing demographic at the company — will make up about a quarter of its recent hires.

The lawsuit follows a 2021 conclusion 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 violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The conclusion came in response to a discrimination complaint Goldstein filed against Raytheon with the EEOC in 2019.

Romer-Friedman said Raytheon slightly changed its job postings after the EEOC found evidence of discrimination. Instead of looking for applicants who graduated within a certain date range, the listings called for people who had recently graduated from college and had less than one or two years of work experience.

“It’s exactly the same thing, just different language,” Romer-Friedman said. “Raytheon has known about these practices for many years and has made no effective changes to its practices.”

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

The courts will decide whether other potential plaintiffs who sought jobs at Raytheon will be automatically included in the suit or will have to join.

William Rivera, senior vice president for litigation at the AARP Foundation, said many older workers face age discrimination when looking for jobs, particularly at technology-related companies that rely more on “young, energetic and agile” workers.

“Closing the job [lots of] “The reduction in opportunities because of people’s age and experience has a really devastating impact on a lot of older workers trying to get back into the workforce,” Rivera said.


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