Tucson, Ariz. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today hailed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of approximately 1,000 former employees of Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems. The group sued the company for failing to pay health care benefits as required by their retirement contracts.
The Circuit Court upheld a Tucson federal judge’s ruling from 2008. Raytheon will have to repay premiums it charged the former employees dating back to 2004, which are estimated at more than $6 million.
“Justice was served today, and the hard-working people affected by Raytheon’s unfair policy are thankful for such a clear ruling in their favor,” Grijalva said. “The company cost them years of financial and medical hardships they should never have had to endure. Hopefully this will send a signal to Raytheon and other companies that violating labor agreements doesn’t pay in this country.”
The plaintiffs had taken early retirement packages, and Raytheon argued in court that under the terms of union contracts negotiated in the 1990s, it could charge them for continued health insurance. Each court ruling has rejected the company’s argument.
“This is a moment for employers to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to honor our agreements with our employees,’” Grijalva said. “There’s simply no need for companies, large or small, to short-change their workers when it comes to wages, benefits, and equal treatment. Our employee protection laws exist for a very good reason, but the first step should be executives and managers understanding that treating workers well is the best policy.”
Grijalva called on Raytheon not to appeal the ruling any further. Instead, he said, the company should “accept the clear verdict, put this chapter behind it, and start to repair its relationships with its retirees. Bringing further uncertainty and difficulty to their former employees is unnecessary and uncalled for at this point.”