Union alleges Spirit used health info in layoffs

Spirit Aerosystems (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – The union at Spirit AeroSystems is accusing the Wichita aerospace company of laying off hundreds of workers last year because they were older and either they or a family member had a costly medical condition.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace made the allegations in filings Wednesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by 10 former employees.

The employees claim they were targeted after Spirit became a self-insured company.

The ex-workers also are asking the office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate whether the company unlawfully obtained their confidential medical information.

“This type of discrimination using confidential medical information is something we did not want to believe a Wichita company would do, let alone do to its own employees,” said Bob Brewer, SPEEA Midwest Director. “But, the evidence is clear – Spirit targeted older employees and employees who had medical conditions that cost money the company did not want to spend. These people are now at home, without a job or medical coverage and no way to get the treatment they, or a loved one desperately needs.”

Spirit AeroSystems says the allegations are filled with distortions and misstatements. It says in a statement that personal health information is not used to make layoff decisions.


These new allegations from SPEEA are filled with distortions and misstatements. Personal health information is certainly not used to make layoff decisions.

Unfortunately SPEEA has demonstrated a habit of making baseless allegations and legal claims. For example, last year SPEEA filed several charges with the National Labor Relations Board related to Spirit’s workforce reductions, one of which it later withdrew, and the rest which the Board found to have no merit whatsoever.

While terminations are always difficult, all such decisions are based on job-related, non-discriminatory criteria, and Spirit has made every effort to carry them out with respect for our employees.

Last year, Spirit made workforce reductions in salaried and management populations. The vast majority of affected employees accepted the company’s severance package and had the opportunity for career transition services. These actions were required to balance the workforce, reduce overhead costs, and hire hourly workers for the factory. This was done to become more competitive in a cost-sensitive environment.

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