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A federal judge handed the Boeing Co. a big win in a sex discrimination case brought by female employees at the company’s Wichita plant. Reversing his earlier decision, U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown withdrew class action status for the bulk of the claims brought by the women. In a ruling made public Wednesday, Brown also issued a summary judgment in favor of Boeing on the plaintiffs’ remaining claims of discrimination in overtime pay for hourly female workers. In April, Brown initially certified as a class action the lawsuit brought by salaried female employees who said they were discriminated against in salary and promotions. He also certified a class based on the claims from hourly female workers who said they were discriminated in promotions. In Tuesday’s ruling, Brown said subsequent evidence does not support the class action status. “We are pleased that the judge more or less confirmed a few things we know, or thought we knew, and that is the fact the company has gone to great lengths to ensure equity in the very things the ladies brought suit against and that is equity in pay and promotion,” Boeing spokesman Dick Ziegler said. The remaining nine women named as original plaintiffs can still pursue their claims, said James Armstrong, the Wichita attorney representing Boeing in the case. The Kansas lawsuit was filed in January 2002 by Wichita women alleging sex discrimination at Chicago-based Boeing, joining similar complaints filed the same day in Missouri and California. A similar case against Boeing was filed three months later in Oklahoma. The lawsuits alleged Boeing denied women promotions, equal pay, overtime and other employment opportunities because of their sex. It also cites cases of sexual harassment. Citing an analysis of Boeing data, the lawsuit contends hourly female employees are less likely to be promoted, saying it was statistically significant in Wichita in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Three of the original 12 plaintiffs have since dropped out of the lawsuit. The remaining plaintiffs were Sandy Wilcynski, Linda Wilkerson, Sheryl Landon, Sonya Phillips, Charlene Chapman, Cheryl Lee Persinger, Karla Carpenter, Nena Holder and Ruby Ryherd. Persinger said their attorney has advised the women not to comment until the case is final. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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