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FAA Agrees to $44 Million Settlement of Age Bias Claims

A group of former U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees filed suit in 2005 after the agency outsourced 2,000 of their jobs to a private company. The employees primarily worked as flight services specialists, and the agency purportedly focused on these positions, in part, due to the older age of the employees. Flight service specialists provided weather information and flight planning to assist private pilots. Demand for their services dropped over time as the internet made it easier for anyone to find that information. As these employees now near retirement age, new attorneys representing the parties reached an agreement to resolve the claims.

When first filed, the employees wanted to stop the government from giving a billion-dollar contract to Lockheed Martin, a government services firm and weapons maker. Following the contract, those government employees became Lockheed Martin employees. While their pay remained roughly the same, the move significantly altered the value of their air traffic control pensions. That retirement income was the focus of the lawsuit.

646 former employees or their estates will share the $44 million settlement, while an additional 25 parties will have their pensions adjusted upwards to qualify for an air traffic controller’s retirement. Because the case was not filed as a class action, each former employee would have had to separately prove their damages. The 1,300 former employees who did not file a lawsuit will not receive anything. An inspector general’s review of the FAA’s outsourcing decision showed it saved the government about $2 billion. The FFA did not comment to the media on the settlement nor did it acknowledge any wrongdoing.