A former procurement-quality specialist for Boeing Company in Philadelphia does not have to accept reinstatement in lieu of front pay awarded by a jury in an age-discrimination suit, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, has ruled.
Boeing appealed the $374,000 verdict, arguing that Joseph Tomasso, laid off at age 58, refused to mitigate his losses by turning down an equivalent position as a precision inspector. Boeing also offered to reinstate Tomasso in lieu of front pay.
The jury found that the position of precision inspector, which Tomasso last held in 1984, was not equivalent to the position of quality specialist. In fact, a manager in HR at the time of the offer described it as “insulting” and “done without tact.”
Boeing argued that Tomasso could make the same money in the inspector position thanks to overtime pay if he continued to work 60 hours per week, as he routinely had done as a quality specialist. The plaintiff said, “When I was working 60 hours a week, I was involved in so many … high-profile projects that you didn’t realize you were working all those hours.” He testified he probably could not put in the same time at a little table “counting widgets.”
Upholding that verdict, the Circuit Court ruled Boeing’s offer of reinstatement was too little, too late. “The relationship between the parties has been irreparably damaged,” the judge noted. “Due to the hostility between the parties, a continued working relationship is not feasible and reinstatement is inappropriate.”