Former AECOM exec reportedly sues over alleged ageism, profit inflation


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Dive Brief:

  • A former AECOM executive alleges he was fired after he raised the alarm about the company inflating earnings and because it was seeking a younger workforce, according to The Real Deal.
  • Jay Badame had spent nearly 40 years at Dallas-based global contractor AECOM before his abrupt departure in August 2023. Badame served for five years as president of the firm’s construction management business, including its AECOM Tishman and AECOM Hunt brands.
  • AECOM disputes Badame’s claims. “We disagree with the claims made and will defend against the lawsuit vigorously,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email to Construction Dive. “AECOM is committed to operating at the highest standards of ethics and integrity in all we do, including responsibly serving our clients and fostering a workplace where all are treated with dignity and respect.”

Dive Insight: 

Badame alleges that he was demoted and then fired after objecting to AECOM’s reporting practices, according to The Real Deal, and his termination was also the result of age discrimination. 

In the lawsuit, Badame claims that AECOM had a contractual obligation to pay a portion of funds from clients to its employees as fringe benefits or bonuses. Instead, the company wrongfully reported $100 million of those funds as profits in Securities Exchange Commission filings, according to The Real Deal. 

Man in blue shirt and grey hair.

Jay Badame

File photo courtesy of AECOM

 

Per The Real Deal, Badame said he raised concerns about this practice with AECOM leaders, but he was not taken seriously and subsequently experienced retaliation.

AECOM CEO Troy Rudd allegedly told Badame, 67, and others that the firm was going to “dramatically increase turnover” in its construction management division because that group had the “oldest average age and lowest turnover rate within AECOM,” The Real Deal reported.

Badame joined Tishman Construction in 1985 as a project engineer, before AECOM bought the company in 2010. In 2019, Badame signed a three-year employment agreement as president of AECOM Tishman and AECOM Hunt. 

But in December 2022, Badame alleges in the complaint that Rudd gave him low ratings on his annual performance review due to “certain unattainable and arbitrary goals,” The Real Deal reported. 

Badame was not offered another contract but continued to serve as president as an at-will employee, according to The Real Deal. In May 2023, Bob Hart was appointed as president of AECOM’s construction management business, while Badame was demoted to an executive advisor. Badame abruptly left the company three months later. 

The lawsuit also alleges that after his demotion, Badame witnessed at least two other instances where AECOM did not want workers in their early 70s on a project, The Real Deal reported, and one of those cases resulted in an internal age discrimination complaint and an internal investigation.

Less than a week after Badame was interviewed as part of that investigation, he was fired without warning or severance, according to The Real Deal. Badame did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



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