Washington Gadfly

FAA Sued For Reverse Discrimination

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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The cliché is that even though the USA twice elected a black president, the country has a long way to go before achieving true racial equality.

We certainly do. Just consider all the times whites are passed over for jobs because of this country’s diversity fetish.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Obama Transportation Department today were smacked with a class action race discrimination lawsuit for systematically purging highly qualified air traffic controller candidates from consideration in order to increase diversity.

Mountain States Legal Foundation president William Perry Pendley, whose group filed the lawsuit, said in a statement that, “In abandoning years of hiring the most qualified and adopting a ‘test’ that is the epitome of psychobabble, the FAA told our clients their skills are less important than their race and the public that its racial agenda is more important than aircraft safety.”

The lawsuit alleges violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Fifth Amendment due process clause. It seeks to represent the estimated 2000-3000 people who were purged from a long used hiring list, based on rigorous testing and graduation from specially certified aviation programs, in order to get more “diverse” applicants.

As of early Wednesday evening, it does not appear to have been reported by anybody but Fox Business Network.

According to the claim, filed in United States District Court for the District of Arizona, the original test, known as AT-SAT, tested for “characteristics needed to effectively perform as an air traffic controller. The characteristics include numeric ability, prioritization, planning, tolerance for high intensity, decisiveness, visualization, problem-solving, and movement.”

That test was legally validated and found relevant to job performance. But on December 30, 2013 the FAA announced that it was eliminating the test to transform the agency into “a more diverse and inclusive workplace.”

The old test was replaced with something that sounded like out of a consciousness-raising session. Prospective air traffic controllers got a “Biological Questionnaire,” with such questions as: “The number of high school sports I participated in was?” “How would you describe your ideal job?” “What has been the major cause of your failures?” and, “more classmates would remember me as humble or dominant?”

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Andrew J. Brigida. His race is not mentioned. But the Facebook page for somebody with that rather uncommon name shows a beefy white man.

Brigida boasts two aviation degrees and scored 100% percent on the old test. He was listed on the official register for certified candidates. But after the policy change the FAA disqualified Brigida and everybody on the register.

They were told to re-apply. Now, the highly-trained and screened candidates, many of them military veterans, would be on equal footing with any random person who on the spur of the moment decided it would be cool to be an air traffic controller. These FAA affectionately calls these people “off the street hires.”

The lawsuit says that, “By purging the Qualified Applicant Register and adopting a new hiring practice for Air Traffic Controllers, the FAA refused to accept the outcome of a race-neutral hiring process solely because of the racial makeup of the successful applicants.”

“Defendants intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff Brigida and other putative Class members and violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by refusing to consider for hiring and/or hiring hire qualified applicants because of those applicants’ race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Despite the egregious facts presented in yet another example of America’s putrescent diversity fetish, the lawsuit might not have a wing and prayer. Under multiple court decisions the government is allowed wide latitude for “affirmative action” in hiring.

American Jewish Committee general counsel Marc Stern, an expert on civil rights law, tells the Washington Gadfly that there is no automatic prohibition of replacing a test with another “facially neutral” one, even if quite dopey, to benefit minorities. “The fact that you use a test that disadvantages some rather than others is not itself illegal.”

Nevertheless, the FAA change in its hiring practices should make anybody who hops on a plane a bit nervous.