April 28, 2021
The Federal Aviation Administration, under a deal filed Wednesday, has agreed to pay nearly $44 million to end a 16-year-old suit alleging it discriminated against nearly 700 older flight service controllers, a sum the workers’ lawyers say is the federal government’s largest age bias settlement.
The FAA, which falls under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the former air traffic controllers submitted the deal to U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman. It will close the book on a suit filed in 2005 that claimed the agency flouted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act when it outsourced thousands of flight service jobs mostly held by people over 40 years old to defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.
The two sides had previously advised the D.C. federal court that they had reached a tentative agreement with the parties needing only to do some fine tuning before it could be filed. They said in Wednesday’s court filing that the settlement “resolves all claims before the court.”
Joseph Sellers, chair of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC’s civil rights and employment practice group, said in a statement Wednesday that the FAA “committed an egregious violation of the law by deciding to cut loose hundreds of employees just because of their age.”
“Whenever the government breaks the law there must be accountability, and that is exactly what this settlement accomplishes,” said Sellers, who was part of the legal team representing the employees. “This case should serve as a reminder that no agency is above the law, and violating the rights of federal employees will have serious consequences.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph M. Sellers and Brian Corman of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and Gary M. Gilbert, Linda A. Kincaid, Michal Shinnar and Shannon C. Leary of Gilbert Employment Law PC.