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Big Verdict Against Lockheed Martin For Age Discrimination

Lockheed Martin Corp. has been ordered by a New Jersey jury to pay $51.5 million in damages (including $50 million in punitive damages) to a former engineer.

Robert Braden was a project specialist for Lockheed Martin, where he had worked since 1995. A reduction in force in July 2012 resulted in the loss of his job. He was 66 years old at the time. 110 other employees had his same title and five were laid off. All five former employees were over the age of 50. Moreover, Mr. Braden was the oldest of six individuals reporting to his former manager. He was the only one fired. The other employees were 35, 38, 42, and 52. Lockheed did not provide Mr. Braden with a reason as to why he was selected. According to the suit, younger employees were still being recruited and hired by the company.

Lockheed has asserted that its employment decisions were made for legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons. The company asserted at trial that Mr. Braden’s work was “consistently below average” and that there was a “lack of impending work for his skill set.” The jury disagreed. Mr. Braden was awarded $520,000 in back pay under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This amount was doubled after the jury found Lockheed’s conduct willful. $520,000 was also awarded to Mr. Braden for emotional distress.