Age of Midwest work force was concern, ex-Boeing official says

WICHITA, Kan. — The top official at Boeing Co.’s former commercial airplane operations in Kansas and Oklahoma acknowledged the aerospace giant had concerns about the age of its work force when it was trying to sell those facilities, according to court documents in an age-discrimination lawsuit.

Former Boeing workers have sued the Chicago-based company and Spirit Aerosystems Inc., which was formed after its Canada-based parent, Onex Corp., bought Boeing’s commercial aircraft operations in Wichita and Tulsa and McAlester, Okla. They claim they lost their jobs because of their age and are seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, which was filed in December 2005.

According to court documents filed this week in U.S. District Court in Wichita, depositions from Jeff Turner, a former Boeing manager now the CEO of Spirit, and other company officials indicated that Boeing and Spirit considered older workers to be more expensive.

“An aging work force in and of itself is — is difficult, problematic for the business, for sustaining the business long-term,” Turner said in his deposition.

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