Flight Services Suit Against FAA Proceeds

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Flight service specialists whose jobs were outsourced or eliminated when Lockheed Martin won the contract to take over the FSS system will get their day in court after all. According to the Federal Times, on Jan. 8, U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Roberts denied the Department of Transportation's application for dismissal of the case, ruling that his court does have jurisdiction over the age discrimination issues raised in the suit. Roberts is the same judge who, in 2005, refused to delay the transfer of the FSS system to Lockheed Martin pending the outcome of the suit, saying the employees “are not likely to succeed on the merits of the age discrimination claim.” But whether he thinks they'll win the case or not, Roberts ruled they should at least have the chance to try. In the ruling, Roberts said he couldn't judge the merits of the case until he's heard the evidence. “Because plaintiffs have not had an opportunity to adequately develop the facts, no fair determination can be made as to whether a genuine issue of material fact exists,” he said. Both sides have until Feb. 7 to put their cases in order so discovery can begin. About 800 employees were affected by the outsourcing, which is the largest example of contracting ever undertaken by the government. The FAA estimates the Lockheed Martin deal will save taxpayers $2.2 billion over the 10-year life of the contract.