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Raytheon discriminates against older job applicants, AARP alleges

Older Americans facing ageism in workplace
Older Americans facing ageism in workplace 03:16

Raytheon has for years systematically discriminated against older workers by phrasing job listings in a way that effectively rules out people over 40 as candidates or discourages them from applying for open positions at the defense contractor, a new proposed class-action lawsuit alleges. 

In a suit filed on Tuesday, the AARP Foundation alleges that Raytheon has violated federal and state laws that protect against age discrimination in hiring, including by aiming job postings only at recent college graduates or applicants with less than 24 months of relevant work experience. Age discrimination in hiring is pervasive across the U.S, AARP said, adding that the complaint is meant to underline that such practices are unlawful.

"Raytheon's recent college graduate hiring requirement intentionally and effectively excludes nearly all older workers from qualifying for, competing for and obtaining many jobs at Raytheon," the AARP Foundation alleges in the suit, which the advocacy group filed in Massachusetts district court. "And Raytheon routinely publishes job postings for numerous jobs where the only basic qualification is being a recent college graduate and where Raytheon unlawfully indicates a preference for younger workers and discrimination against older workers and deters older workers from applying."

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Raytheon said it "complies with all relevant age discrimination laws,. and we're committed to maintaining a diverse workforce. We believe these claims are entirely without merit, and we will actively defend our hiring practices."

Attorneys for the lead plaintiff in the case, Virginia resident Mark Goldstein, 67, noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2021 found that Raytheon's hiring practices violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and accused the company of continuing to reject and discourage older job applicants simply on the basis of age. 

"This is a pretty common practice that we're seeing in a lot of different industries," Peter Romer-Friedman, an attorney for the plaintiff, told CBS MoneyWatch. 

AARP, or the American Association of Retired Persons, is a nonprofit advocacy group that represents the interests of people over age 50. AARP Foundation is the charitable arm of the organization. 

"Categorically screened out"

More specifically, many Raytheon job ads include phrases such as "recent college graduate" or "new graduate," according to the suit. Postings on the company's career site and other job boards also allegedly often require applicants to have less than one or two years of experience in order to meet the company's qualifications. 

"At Raytheon in particular, for the past five to six years we have seen the company routinely post job advertisements for a range of positions in different areas where the basic job qualification is the person has to have graduated from college recently, or, if they graduated, has to have less than 24 months of experience," Romer-Friedman said.

According to the complaint, "the vast majority of qualified older workers are categorically screened out by Raytheon solely based on their year of college graduation, which Raytheon requires to be provided with their applications, either by an automated system or by an employee who can easily estimate an applicant's age with such information."

Between 2019 and 2023, Goldstein applied for at least seven positions at Raytheon, the suit states. In each case, he allegedly met all the job requirements, except he had not graduated from college recent and had decades of relevant work experience.

The plaintiffs are seeking a change in Raytheon's hiring policy, as well as compensation for people who were denied jobs or deterred from applying. 

Up to workers  

The positions Goldstein applied for ranged in pay from $53,000 to $103,000 per year. But a job with more junior responsibilities that offers lower pay should not disqualify older applicants from being considered for the role, Romer-Friedman said.

"It would not be an odd thing for someone who has more experience to be in an entry-level position at a marquee company like Raytheon where a lower level entry-level job can still make $103,000," the attorney said, adding that it's up to job candidates if they're willing to work for lower pay. 

Here’s why businesses should prioritize hiring seniors 04:04

"The point of law is to let the people make the decision for themselves — not for the employer to make the assumption you're over 40, therefore this job won't appeal to you," William Alvarado Rivera, senior vice president for litigation at AARP Foundation, told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Discrimination against older workers typically stems from stereotypes suggesting they're not current with the latest technology, don't learn as well or as quickly as younger workers, or that they are close to retirement, Rivera noted. 

"There are a lot of negative stereotypes about aging, and inevitably about not being as quick or agile or energetic once you hit a certain point, and that point seems to be getting lower and lower," he said. 

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