JPL to pay $10 million to settle age discrimination claims

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NASA engineers and technicians move the Mars 2020 spacecraft descent stage on Dec. 27, 2019, during a media tour of the spacecraft assembly area clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

NASA engineers and technicians move the Mars 2020 spacecraft descent stage on Dec. 27, 2019, during a media tour of the spacecraft assembly area clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has agreed to pay $10 million to settle accusations of age discrimination involving dozens of employees, federal officials announced Wednesday.

JPL agreed to a three-year consent decree which involves having monitors check the laboratory’s compliance with work rules. JPL also agreed to provide age discrimination training to workers and hire a diversity director, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced.

The commission’s lawsuit alleged that since at least 2010, the world-famous Southern California laboratory systematically laid off employees over the age of 40 in order to retain younger workers. The settlement money will go into a fund for the employees who allegedly faced discrimination.

JPL didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing in the agreement, which was initially reached in April.

“The lab has a longstanding commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace, free of discrimination. JPL is stronger because of our diversity and we value all our colleagues at every stage of their career,” JPL spokeswoman Veronica McGregor said in a statement.

JPL is based in La Canada Flintridge, just north of Los Angeles. It manages NASA’s Deep Space Network, a worldwide system of radio antennas that communicates with interplanetary spacecraft. It also has operated Mars exploration missions.

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