Boeing Co. engaged in age discrimination on "a breathtaking scale," the engineers union at the aerospace giant said Thursday.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace said Thursday it has filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Washington State Human Rights Commission after months of investigation.

"The evidence is overwhelming that Boeing hatched and implemented a scheme to engage in age discrimination on a breathtaking scale," said Ray Goforth, union executive director.

A Boeing spokesman said the Chicago-based company "does not discriminate against its employees on any basis."

"Diversifying our engineering workforce reflects changes in our business and is not related to the age of our employees," Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said. "We're disappointed that SPEEA filed this baseless complaint."

The 25,000-member union charges Boeing outsourced work to Russia, India and other places to get rid of older workers.

"The scheme involved secret manipulation of the retention ranking factors used to determine layoff order for employees," GoForth said. "This illegal manipulation doubled, tripled and quadrupled layoff vulnerability for older employees compared to previous years. The company then announced a series of work movements and reorganizations to implement the manipulated layoff order."

Since initial reports of layoffs last year totaling more than 1,000 manufacturing jobs, that number has grown to more than 2,500 with projections of up to 4,500 by 2016, the union said in a statement.

"The disbursement of work to Russia, India and domestic 'centers of excellence' is merely a pretext for the wholesale purge of Boeing's older workforce," GoForth said.

The union represents employees in Washington, Kansas, Oregon, Utah, California and Florida, at Boeing Co., Spirit AeroSystems and Triumph Composite Systems.

Boeing assembles and makes parts for the 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston. The local factory is not unionized.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or