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A New Jersey jury has awarded $51.4 million, including $50 million in punitive damages, to a former Lockheed Martin Corp. employee laid off in a 2012 reduction in force who charged age discrimination.
Robert Braden was 68 and the only one — and the oldest — of six workers in his group to be laid off by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Camden, New Jersey. Mr. Braden charged violations of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and state law.
The jury awarded Mr. Braden $50 million punitive damages plus $520,000 for lost wages and benefits and another $520,000 for pain and suffering in its Jan. 26 verdict, which followed a four-day trial.
Mr. Braden had joined RCA Corp. in 1984, and through a series of mergers and acquisitions became a Lockheed Martin employee in March 1995, according to the complaint. At the time of his termination, he worked in Lockheed Martin’s electronic systems unit as a project specialist in Moorestown, New Jersey.
In an October 2015 motion seeking summary judgment in the case, Lockheed Martin said Mr. Braden was terminated not because of age discrimination but because of “below average performance and the lack of future work available for his skill set.”
In her May 2016 opinion denying the motion, Judge Renee Marie Bumb said, “although it is slim, plaintiff has put forward evidence to suggest pretextual conduct on the part of defendant. Plaintiff has identified sufficiently inconsistent reasons given by defendant’s employers for terminating plaintiff’s employment.”
In response to a query as to whether it would appeal, the company said in a statement, “At Lockheed Martin, ethics and integrity have always been, and continue to be, core principles and we do not tolerate discrimination in any form. We disagree with the verdict as the evidence does not support Mr. Braden’s claims and we are evaluating next steps to overturn the decision.”
A supervisor’s comment about making way for a younger generation was an “open declaration of bias,” says a federal appeals court in reinstating an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a terminated New York Metropolitan Transit Authority worker.