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On Getting Bounced at Boeing

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To be riffed in the United States is akin to being declared redundant in Great Britain. You're laid off. Terminated. Fired! Farewell! You have lost your job by reason of a (ITAL) Reduction in Force. The consequences of a RIF are traumatic for workers at any age. For a riffee over 60, the consequences often add up to disaster.

At the time the terrorists attacked in 2001, Zuniga was one of 23 material management analysts at Boeing's plant in Tulsa. During its peak years of aerospace and defense contracts, the plant had 5,000 employees. Gradually its workforce had dwindled to about 1,000. In the uncertain months following 9/11, the company announced a further 30 percent layoff nationwide. In Tulsa, managers set in motion an Employment Reduction Process (ERP). You would not believe Boeing's ERP if I described it to you, so I will not describe it.

In the end, the ERP decreed that seven of the 23 analysts would have to go. All but Krista Harris, 30, were 40 years of age or older. Thus they enjoyed a substantial degree of job protection provided by the Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The act makes it unlawful for a covered employer to discriminate against employees over the age of 40 by reason of their age.

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