American Scene: Court says age discrimination unproved in Boeing sale

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

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

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

The workers’ lawsuit was granted conditional class-action status in 2006 under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Monday with the 2010 decision of U.S. District Judge Eric F. Melgren, summarily siding in favor of the aerospace giants. Judge 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 agreed with the lower court’s finding that the ex-employees failed to show the companies intended to interfere with their pension benefits.

CALIFORNIA

Archbishop-elect in DUI arrest

SAN DIEGO — The Roman Catholic archbishop-elect of San Francisco was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence, San Diego police said Monday.

The Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, a vigorous supporter of California’s same-sex marriage ban, was arrested after being stopped early Saturday at a checkpoint near the San Diego State University campus, said Detective Gary Hassen, a police spokesman. He declined to comment on whether Archbishop Cordileone took a sobriety test.

There was no record of Archbishop Cordileone being in custody on Monday. The San Diego city attorney’s office, which prosecutes misdemeanor DUI offenses, said it had not received a report on the arrest.

Archbishop Cordileone, 56, is a native of San Diego, where he was raised and ordained as a priest in 1982. In July, Pope Benedict XVI selected him to replace Archbishop George Niederauer, who is retiring in October. Archbishop Cordileone was most recently bishop of Oakland, and several years ago, he was an auxiliary bishop in San Diego.

While serving in San Diego four years ago, Archbishop Cordileone was instrumental in devising an initiative to strip same-sex couples of the right to wed in California and then raising Catholic dollars to qualify it for the ballot. He also was part of a statewide network of clergy that promoted the measure, known as Proposition 8. Campaign finance records show he personally gave at least $6,000 to back the voter-approved ban.

Since last year, Archbishop Cordileone has been chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

TEXAS

Court: No ruling on Fort Hood suspect’s beard

FORT HOOD — The trial of the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will go forward, according to a military appeals court ruling Monday. The court did not address whether his beard could be shaved forcibly before the court-martial.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces said that Maj. Nidal Hasan’s appeal was premature because the trial judge hasn’t issued a definitive, written order for the forced shaving. If the judge issues that order, then Mr. Hasan can appeal it, the court said.

The appeals court temporarily delayed Mr. Hasan’s upcoming trial while it considered his appeal of the judge’s comments that he would order Mr. Hasan to be forcibly shaved if he refused to shave the beard himself.

Mr. Hasan, 41, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted in the November 2009 shooting rampage that killed 13 and wounded more than two dozen others on the Texas Army post.

Mr. Hasan’s attorneys have said he grew the beard, which violates Army regulations, as an expression of his Muslim faith. They argued that forcing him to shave would violate his religious freedoms. They also have said Mr. Hasan wouldn’t shave because he had a premonition that his death is imminent, and doesn’t want to die beardless because he believes not having one is a sin.

According to military regulations, soldiers who disobey orders to be clean-shaven can be forcibly shaved.

The judge, Col. Gregory Gross, has banned Maj. Hasan from courtroom hearings since he first showed up in court in June with a beard. Maj. Hasan has watched proceedings on a closed-circuit television in a nearby room.

NEW YORK

Body of girl, 5, found; 2 in custody

NIAGARA FALLS — A trusted family friend killed a 5-year-old western New York girl at her great-grandmother’s home, put her body in a trash bag and dumped it in an alley garbage can, police said Monday.

Niagara Falls Chief Detective William Thompson said two people were in custody and will be charged in the death of Isabella Sarah Tennant. The second person was involved after the girl was already dead, Detective Thompson said.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Detective Thompson said Isabella was visiting her great-grandmother’s house in downtown Niagara Falls. She was last seen alive around 10:30 p.m. Sunday by a 16-year-old boy who often did chores for the great-grandmother. Her family reported her missing around 6 a.m., and her body was found fully clothed four hours later in an alley a few blocks away.

One of the suspects came to police on his own Monday morning and helped lead investigators to the body. Detective Thompson said there were signs of injuries.

Police have not identified the suspects yet. An autopsy is planned for Tuesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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