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FAA to Pay Older Flight Controllers $44 Million Under Bias Pact

April 29, 2021, 2:21 PM

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation will pay more than 640 former flight service controllers roughly $44 million to settle a 2005 lawsuit that alleged they were fired because they were 40 or older, federal court records show.

The agencies are to separately provide annuity adjustments to another 25 class members in the 15-year-old case so that each receives sufficient additional service credit to qualify for an air traffic controller retirement, according to the agreement filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Those 25 class members will not share in the $43.8 class settlement, which will be distributed to the remaining class members “in amounts to which each of the Settlement Fund Plaintiffs agreed,” the agreement said.

The parties originally informed the court of the settlement Oct. 22, but the settlement terms weren’t publicly disclosed at that time because a written agreement was still being formalized.

The agencies didn’t admit to liability on the workers’ bias allegations by agreeing to the settlement.

Class counsel’s attorneys’ fees will be paid from the settlement fund and “will be governed by the terms of agreements” with each of the class members, according to the pact.

The suit charged the FAA with violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act when it terminated approximately 800 flight service controllers because of their age after it outsourced the work they were performing to Lockheed Martin Corp. under a five-year, $1.9 billion contract.

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Gilbert Employment Law PC represent the workers. The Justice Department represents the FAA and the DOT.

The case is Breen v. Buttigieg, D.D.C., No. 1:05-cv-00654, status report on settlement 4/28/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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