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Raytheon has filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination in hiring practices

A 67-year-old Virginia man sued Raytheon on Tuesday for age discrimination, 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 the elderly, filed the case in U.S. District Court on behalf of Mark Goldstein. The lawsuit alleges that Goldstein has applied for many positions at Raytheon since 2019 but was never granted an interview – “based on his age.” The AARP Foundation is seeking to turn the lawsuit into a class action on behalf of other potential plaintiffs.

The complaint says Raytheon – one of the country’s largest defense companies with 185,000 employees worldwide – favors young people in its recruitment process by using terms such as “recent graduate” or “newly graduated” in its job postings. For some positions in software engineering, mechanical engineering, business administration 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 to “meet the basic qualifications.” – or to have graduated. university in the past one or two years.

Raytheon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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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 did not have a recent college degree and that he had more than one or two years of work experience , the complaint alleges.

Peter Romer-Friedman, a public interest attorney who represents Goldstein alongside the AARP Foundation, said tens of thousands of older Americans “who I saw these advertisements and therefore did not apply” could be eligible to join the class action.

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

“We have made it clear that Raytheon is not the only major company doing this,” Romer-Friedman said. “We hope this lawsuit sends a strong message that it is not okay for Raytheon to do this, and that it is not okay for other companies, large or small, to exclude older workers through this type of ‘recent graduate’ to demand.”

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

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

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 graduate hiring practices violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act Act of 1967. That finding came in. response to a discrimination complaint Goldstein filed against Raytheon with the EEOC in 2019.

Romer-Friedman said Raytheon adjusted its job postings slightly after the EEOC found evidence of discrimination. Instead of looking for candidates who graduated within a specific date range, the list looked for recent graduates with less than one or two years of work experience.

“It’s exactly the same with different languages,” Romer-Friedman said. “Raytheon has been aware of these practices for several years and has not effectively changed their practices.”

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

The court will decide whether other potential plaintiffs who may have sought employment at Raytheon will be automatically included in the lawsuit or will be required to sign up.

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 technology-related companies that place a premium on “youthful, energetic and agile” workers.

“Closing off (many) job opportunities because of people’s age and experience really has an absolutely devastating effect on many older workers trying to get back into the workforce,” Rivera said.

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