(CN) — A federal judge Monday conditionally certified a class of TSA workers who sued the Department of Homeland Security for age discrimination.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco allowed TSA workers who sued in June 2015 to be treated as a class, though class members will have to opt in, rather than opt out, which is typical in class actions.
“The court concludes that plaintiffs have offered substantial allegations that the putative class members were all harmed by a policy or decision that resulted in the closing of the TSA offices at which they worked,” Tigar wrote. “These allegations sufficiently support the conclusion that the putative class members are similarly situated, and that as a result, the class members will share a number of common issues of law and fact and the case will benefit from resolution as a collective action rather than through individual cases.”
The class claims the TSA specifically targeted older marshals when it closed field offices in Cleveland, Tampa, San Diego, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Phoenix.
The lead plaintiff, who sued under his initials K.H. due to what he claims are matters of national security, claims that at least 90 percent of air marshals in the targeted offices were older than 40. Those marshals have been reassigned.
“It is the TSA’s intent to force older workers from federal service and it is the TSA’s desire that the older workers will in fact quit due to the closure of the field offices and the mandatory office reassignment,” K.H. claims.
He says the TSA wants to “purge” its workforce of older air marshals so it can “hire two young field air marshals for every older field air marshal.” The move could affect approximately 300 older air marshals.
In addition, he says, “The TSA is making any potential move to other offices extremely difficult, expensive, unpalatable, and problematic.”
K.H. says he suffered severe stress about uprooting his family from Florida and moving to California when the TSA decided to close the Tampa office, where he worked.
He filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which failed to act within 180 days.
The plaintiffs are represented by Nicholas Wieczorek with Morris, Polich & Purdy in Las Vegas, who did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The TSA did not respond to a request for comment.