“Brigida Case” Breakthrough Could Prove Embarrassing and Costly for the FAA

Challenge to Obama-era Racial Preferences Gains Airspeed 

Denver, Colorado — October 29, 2020 — Mountain States Legal Foundation this week filed an amended class action complaint in the case of Brigida v. U.S Department of Transportation, following a federal judge’s order allowing plaintiffs to move forward with pre-class certification discovery. It’s a breakthrough in the case MSLF has been fighting to achieve over the past two years.

At issue in the case is whether the Federal Aviation Administration under Barack Obama abandoned a validated and strictly merit-based hiring system for air traffic controllers in favor of a racially biased system that unfairly and illegally discriminated against non-minority applicants, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Thousands of previously qualified, ready-to-hire candidates, including plaintiff Andrew Brigida, had their applications rejected by the FAA after the agency implemented its biographical screening mechanism that favored minority applicants.

A federal judge’s order recently opened the door to the discovery phase of the case, moving plaintiffs one step closer to achieving justice and accountability. MSLF is currently negotiating with the government over the bounds of that discovery. “We are very excited that the judge gave us the opportunity to move forward with the case, and we are thrilled to begin discovery,” said MSLF Attorney David McDonald.

The federal government has done everything possible in the past five years to derail the case, and to avoid being held accountable for Obama-era hiring practices that weren’t just unfair and discriminatory but also potentially put airline passengers at increased risk. This marks a major turning point in a case that could prove extremely embarrassing and costly to the FAA.    

Specifically, plaintiff Andrew Brigida, who had previously met all requirements to be a “well qualified” applicant, claims that he was passed over as a job applicant on the basis of his race in favor of less qualified applicants selected for their “biographical” data, violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The FAA rejected the applications of thousands of previously qualified, ready-to-hire candidates, just like Brigida, simply because they did not fit the racially-skewed biographical profile. 

Mr. Brigida hailed recent developments as a step toward justice and accountability. “It’s great to finally see a step in the right direction in this case,” he said. “The federal government has been playing a lot of procedural games with us for almost five years now.” 

More on the case can be found by following these links: