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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bulk of FBI Agents Have Age Bias Claims Tossed

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge threw out all but four of the 45 FBI agents fighting a policy that limits how long agents can serve as squad supervisors.

The 45 agents - all GS-14 squad supervisors in field offices over the age of 40 - sued over the new term limits, claiming that the term limits acted as a way for the bureau to push out older agents. Since the complaint was filed in 2010, the number of plaintiffs has dropped to 34.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon granted most of the FBI's motion for summary judgment Monday, ruling that most of the agents had either already litigated the matter or had not suffered adverse employment action. At the end of a term limit, the bureau gives agents the option of applying for a promotion, accepting a lateral transfer or returning to nonsupervisory agent status.

Leon refused to apply the motion to all agents, stating that the bureau could not prove that four of the agents had failed to timely file their complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The complaint against Attorney General Eric Holder alleges that the agents were forced to retire early, accept demotion and loss of pay, or suffer financial and personal hardship by accepting transfer to remote offices. Agents also claim that, after enacting the policy to remove older agents from their positions, the FBI changed the term limits from five years to seven to keep the younger agents at their posts.

"Plaintiffs contend that the FBI initiated the policy because of a perception by FBI managers that older agents who had held a supervisory position for several years had become stagnant and needed to be replaced with younger agents," the complaint states.

The demotions allegedly dropped them from GS-14 status to GS-13 on the government pay scale.

GS-14 salaries start at $105,211 while GS-13 salaries start at $89,033, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

According to the ruling, most of the agents did not suffer adverse employment action. Instead, some voluntarily retired while others took lateral positions under the same pay grade.

Citing a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, the judge also dismissed all of the agents' claims for disparate impact. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not allow for disparate impact claims to be brought against federal employees, Leon said.

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