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Older worker accuses defense contractor of discriminating by seeking recent college grads

BOSTON — (AP) — A major defense contractor was sued Tuesday over allegations that it discriminated against older workers in job ads.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston accuses RTX Corporation of posting ads that target younger workers at the expense of their older peers in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, and the Virginia Human Rights Act.

RTX, formerly Raytheon Technologies Corporation, is an American multinational aerospace and defense conglomerate headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The lawsuit alleges it posted ads seeking job applicants who are recent graduates or have less than two years' experience, which excluded older workers from consideration or deterred them from applying in the first place.

“Americans are living and working longer than ever, yet unfair and discriminatory hiring practices are keeping older workers from jobs they’re qualified for,” the AARP Foundation's senior vice president for litigation, William Alvarado Rivera, said in a statement. “Raytheon’s intentional discrimination against experienced job candidates, simply because of their age, is illegal and unacceptable.”

In a statement, the company denied the allegations.

“RTX complies with all relevant age discrimination laws and we’re committed to maintaining a diverse workforce,” RTX said. “We believe these claims are entirely without merit and we will actively defend our hiring practices.”

A 2023 AARP survey found that nearly one in six adults reported they were not hired for a job they applied for within the past two years because of their age. Half of job seekers reported they were asked by an employer to produce their birthdate during the application or interview process.

About half of Americans also think there's age discrimination in the workplace, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But there's a split by age. The poll finds 60% of adults age 60 and over say older workers in the U.S. are always or often discriminated against, while 43% of adults younger than 45 say the same.

The suit, seeking class action status, was filed by the AARP Foundation, Peter Romer-Friedman Law, and Outten & Golden, whose managing partner, Adam Klein, said it should serve as a warning to other big companies engaged in such discrimination.

“Fortune 500 companies should know better than to exclude hardworking older Americans from jobs by targeting ‘recent college graduates’ in hiring posts,” Klein said in a statement, adding that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “has long held that this type of language discourages qualified older workers from applying for jobs.”

The plaintiff in the case, Mark Goldstein, 67, alleges he applied for several positions at the company since 2019. Goldstein filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging he wasn't considered for these jobs, and the EEOC found he was denied due to his age. The EEOC also found Raytheon's job advertisements violated the ADEA, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit is demanding that the company end practices that discriminate against Goldstein and the “tens of thousands" of potential members of the class action who "have applied, attempted to apply, or have been interested in applying” for jobs. It also demands that the company institute policies that provide “equal employment opportunities for all employees” regardless of their age, and pay damages including backpay to Goldstein and other affected workers.

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