April 28, 2021
Almost 700 former agency employees whose jobs were outsourced in 2005 will share in the settlement.
The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to pay $44 million to resolve a long-standing lawsuit brought by former employees who alleged that their jobs were outsourced because of their age, a settlement announced Wednesday that their lawyers say is the largest of its kind.
The case was filed in 2005, when the FAA decided to hand over the work of about 2,000 employees, known as flight services specialists, to a private company. FAA officials, including the head of the agency at the time, were open about the aging specialist workforce being a factor in the outsourcing deal, according to evidence presented in the lawsuit.
But the case languished in the courts for years as one judge retired and the law firm that originally represented the employees was closed. With the former FAA employees reaching retirement age, a new team of lawyers began hashing out a settlement with the government last year.
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“Suddenly their pension investment was ripped away from them,” he said.
The oldest Millennials became eligible to sue for age discrimination this year.
Recouping that retirement pay became the focus of the lawsuit. The $44 million settlement fund will be shared by 646 former employees or their estates. An additional 25 plaintiffs will have their pensions adjusted upward.
Sellers acknowledged that the payouts won’t cover everything the former employees lost, but he said the case was unusual because it was not pursued as a class-action. That meant that even had they won, each of the 671 plaintiffs would have had to have a separate trial to determine what they were owed, potentially extending the case several more years. With the former employees aging, Sellers said it made sense to strike a deal.
“You don’t recover 100 percent when you’re settling a case,” Sellers said. “Our clients faced a tough choice.”
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