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Ex-Boeing workers lose age-bias suit

WICHITA, Kan. — A federal appeals court ruled Monday that former employees of Boeing Co. failed to demonstrate a pattern of age discrimination following the 2005 sale of its commercial aircraft business in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Ninety former Boeing workers sued in December 2005, claiming they lost their jobs because of their age when the aerospace manufacturer sold operations in Wichita, Tulsa, Okla., and McAlester, Okla., to Onex Corp.

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Onex formed Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems to handle the business.

The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Monday with the 2010 decision of US District Judge Eric Melgren, summarily siding in favor of the aerospace giants.

Melgren found there was too little evidence to put the case before a jury.

‘‘Although the Employees have provided evidence that discrimination occurred during Boeing’s divestiture of the Division, we agree with the district court that the Employees cannot prove a pattern or practice of age discrimination,’’ the appeals court wrote.

In its 47-page ruling, the appeals court said that while older employees ‘‘fared slightly worse’’ than younger ones, they had failed to show the companies’ hiring practices unfairly hurt older workers.

It also said the former employees failed to show the companies intended to interfere with their pension ­benefits.

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