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

Challenge to Obama-era Racial Preferences Gains Airspeed 

Denver, Colorado — October 15, 2020 — A legal challenge to Obama-era hiring preferences for federal air traffic workers received a mid-air refueling Monday, when a federal judge granted the plaintiffs request to amend their class action complaint, denied the government’s motion to strike class claims, and opened the door to a discovery phase of the case.  

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 Federal Aviation Administration.   

“This ruling confirms what we knew all along: our clients and the class they seek to represent have a viable claim against the FAA, whose race-based employment decision destroyed the futures of thousands of former would-be air controllers,” said MSLF Attorney Brian Gregg.  

At issue in the case is whether the Federal Aviation Administration under Barack Obama stealthily jettisoned 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. 

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 Monday’s ruling 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.” 

Discovery could prove embarrassing to former FAA and Obama administration officials who quietly and hurriedly rushed the FAA to change from skills-based hiring to biographical-based screening. “We’re excited to finally get into the discovery process,” added MSLF Attorney David McDonald. “Being able to shine some light on the egregious facts alleged in this case is going to have a major impact on the course of the litigation.” 

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