Westinghouse faces lawsuit alleging age bias Action follows EEOC decision

January 29, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Nearly 100 employees who were laid off by the local Westinghouse Electric Corp. division in early 1991 filed a class-action suit yesterday charging the company with age discrimination.

Christopher G. Mackaronis, a Washington lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said yesterday's legal action followed "a favorable decision" by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month about the workers' complaint that they had been dismissed because of their age.

Jack Martin, a spokesman for the Westinghouse Electric Systems Group in Linthicum, said it was corporate policy not to comment on matters before government agencies or the courts.

The 97 former employees involved in the suit were among about 1,200 Westinghouse workers laid off in February 1991 following the Pentagon's cancellation of the Navy's A-12 attack-aircraft contract. Westinghouse was under contract to supply the main radar units and an infrared system for the new planes.

Mr. Mackaronis said the majority of the former workers involved in the suit, which was filed with the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, "are professional and technical people. They are predominantly engineers," he added, "many with 20 years of service with the company. A fair amount of them have in excess of 30 years with Westinghouse."

He said the plaintiffs were equally divided between Westinghouse's complex adjacent to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and its Hunt Valley operations.

The former workers charged in the suit that as part of a "pattern and practice of discrimination against older employees, Westinghouse intentionally selected the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for termination based on their age, their higher salaries, their pension eligibility, or some combination of these factors."

The suit also alleged that Westinghouse:

* Retained and, in some instances, promoted less-qualified younger employees;

* Hired and attempted to hire younger employees to perform work that was the same or substantially the same as that performed by the older workers who were terminated or involuntarily retired;

* Transferred younger employees to departments in which older employees were about to be, or were previously, terminated, involuntarily retired or demoted.

In their suit, the former workers seek to be reinstated and to be allowed to continue their jobs in a nondiscriminatory fashion. They are also seeking back pay and other losses, plus interest.

Westinghouse has eliminated about 4,000 jobs in Maryland over the past two years. The company is expected to go ahead with 500 layoffs today if the federal government does not reverse its earlier decision to cancel production of a major electronic warfare contract.

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