It’s not uncommon for people to work well into their sixties, and even longer, especially if they’re doing something they love. It certainly wouldn’t be right to get rid of people as they age. After all, over the years employees build and acquire particular sets of skills that can benefit companies they work for. So naturally, ageism isn’t a thing in today’s day an age, not in America. Wrong. Age discrimination is alive and well, and all too often employees are let go because they’re deemed too old or unfit to carry out a job that they are more than capable of doing. This was true for Robert Braden, a former engineer at Lockheed Martin who was 66 years old when he was fired back in 2012 due to age discrimination. In a lawsuit, he accused Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor, of laying him off because of his age. Fortunately for Braden, a federal jury unanimously sided with him and awarded him “$50 million in punitive damages, $520,000 for economic loss, and $520,000 for pain and suffering.”
According to the lawsuit that was filed in 2015, Braden claimed: “the company gave no reason for his layoff and that his job performance was excellent.” He added, “Lockheed targeted older workers for layoffs and sought to replace them with a younger workforce.” To make matters worse, the company allegedly paid Braden’s younger colleagues more than him and his older colleagues because as far as the company was concerned, older workers have nowhere else to go.
Braden had been working with his previous employer for 29 years when he was let go and was the “only member of the Electronic Systems-Mission Systems and Sensors unit who lost his job,” according to philly.com. Additionally, of the 110 employees who shared Braden’s job classification, only five were let go, and all five “were older than 50.”
So how did Lockheed respond? Well, they denied all allegations, “saying that Braden — who reportedly worked with the company for 29 years — was terminated from his job because of his below average performance.” The jury didn’t buy their story, though, and determined that the company violated the Age Discrimination and Employment Act. Their verdict sent a loud message to corporate America, according to Stephen G. Console, Braden’s attorney. He added, “no company is too big to follow the civil rights laws of this amazing country of ours. This is a verdict that should make every employee in this country proud and happy.”
Lockheed Martin Age Discrimination Lawsuit: Former Engineer At Defense Contractor Awarded $51.5 Million
Ex-Lockheed Martin Engineer Wins $51.6M Verdict In Age Discrimination Suit