7 laid off by Westinghouse charge bias

December 23, 1992|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Seven white security officers who were laid off by Westinghouse Electric Corp. last month are charging the defense electronics giant with racial discrimination.

The officers said yesterday that they believe Westinghouse dismissed mostly white, mostly male officers as a part of October's layoff of 1,400 Maryland workers to avoid discrimination suits by minority workers and women.

The six men and one woman have filed racial discrimination charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Maryland Human Rights Commission.

Jack Martin, a spokesman at Westinghouse's Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum, said the company, "as a matter of policy, does not comment on matters pending before a governmental body."

The company, which has been slimming down in the face of defense cuts, determined whom to lay off "through a comprehensive analysis of our personnel resources and their qualities," he added.

Speaking at a press conference at their attorney's office building yesterday, the six male officers said that if Westinghouse had followed seniority rules, or fairly evaluated them, or even pulled their names out of a hat, they wouldn't have fought back. (The seventh officer, a woman, was ill and not available for comment, they said.)

But Westinghouse announced that workers were retained according to merit, and then, the officers said, laid off highly rated workers. As a result, the officers said they had to fight to clear their names.

"They did it to us because they thought we would just take it" and wouldn't fight back, said Joseph Antonelli, one of the dismissed officers.

Charles Lambdin, who worked for Westinghouse for more than five years, says he's finding it difficult to get a new job. If a prospective employer calls Westinghouse for a reference, and managers there say they laid him off because he was in the bottom 10 percent of the staff, "who is going to hire me?" he asked.

Mr. Lambdin said that unlike many officers who kept their jobs, he had attended a police academy, had a high security clearance, is an expert in firearms, had "above average" performance evaluations and had a perfect attendance record.

Some officers who kept their jobs had been disciplined for failing to show up for work, failing to turn in reports and losing documents, he said. "I feel so hurt. I've never even been late for work," he said.

Their attorney, Richard Whiley, said his clients don't want to be viewed as racists or reactionaries, but are asking to be treated fairly.

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