Claiming a pattern of discrimination existed at the Northrop Corp., an engineering manager at the aerospace giant charged this week in federal court that supervisors stalled his job advancement because of his age and Latino background.
Richard E. Rosas of Placentia, currently manager of technological studies-facilities at Northrop's Hawthorne plant, is seeking $5 million in damages from Northrop. The 52-year-old Rosas, a Mexican-American, claims that his age and ethnic background prevented him from gaining several promotions at the company and, in effect, resulted in a demotion.
As the case opened before U.S. District Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler in Santa Ana, Rosas also testified that he knows of other colleagues at Northrop who were pressured to step aside or accept lesser positions because of their age.
But attorney Louise Ann Fernandez, representing Northrop, in her opening statement rebutted the employee's claim that his career was harmed, saying "nothing bad happened to Rosas."
"The fact is that Mr. Rosas was not the victim of wrongful discrimination," Fernandez said. "It's clear that Northrop had legitimate reasons for not selecting" Rosas for several higher job openings, reasons that she said were based not on age or ethnicity but on professional qualifications.
Northrop is one of several large Southern California aerospace firms that do business with the federal government and that have attracted close scrutiny in recent years from congressional critics who complain that these industry leaders have failed to adequately attract and promote minorities and women.