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First Black Spacecraft Manager Sues Boeing

TORRANCE (CN) - A black scientist who was the first to hold the title of Spacecraft Manager for The Boeing Company is claiming that Boeing retaliated against him and finally forced him into retirement after he testified in an employment discrimination case.

Ronnie L. Williams, who worked for Boeing (and Hughes Aircraft before Boeing acquired its space and communication division) for 29 years, claimed in a Superior Court suit that the company tried to lay him off because of his testimony, began surveillance of his computer, and placed him on an unreliable "performance improvement plan" under which he was doomed to failure.

Finally, in May of last year, Williams was told to retire or be terminated for cause, the suit said. At the time, Williams was one of the highest paid engineers in his department and the only African-American Spacecraft Manager.

A day after he was forced out, the compnay announced the layoff of 750 employees. If he had been incorporated in that layoff, Williams would would have been eligible for a year of unemployment benefits and a severace package of about $60,000, the suit claimed.

On his last day of work Williams said he was given only 15 minutes and one box to collect his personal effects. Some valuable items that were left behind were destroyed instead of being shipped to him as promised, the complaint alleged. These include photos of Williams on the space shuttle and valuable data need to gain future employment requiring security clearance.

According to the complaint, Williams had managed "the most complex communications satellite ever built by defendant (Intel Sat 6)' and also developed a process of replacing failed propulsion systems on spacecraft.

The suit was filed by Steven Haney of Haney, Buchanan & Patterson.


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