Did the FAA Play Favorites? Lawsuit Claims Minorities Unfairly Denied Air Traffic Controller Jobs

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FAA control centre (Credits: Interesting Engineeing)

Over 1,000 people are suing the FAA, saying they were unfairly rejected for air traffic controller jobs. They believe they were discriminated against because of their race.

These applicants were in a special program (CTI) that trained them to be air traffic controllers. They went to college, completed a specific training program, and even got high scores on a test designed for the job.

Before this, most CTI graduates would get hired as air traffic controllers. But then the FAA changed the hiring process. The new process involved a test that wasn’t related to the actual job of air traffic control. This test was supposed to help hire more people from different backgrounds.

FAA Runway Lighting layout Greater Rochester International Airport Approach Lighting (Credits: TEKJET)

The lawsuit says this new test basically ignored the good scores and training of the CTI graduates. They weren’t even given a chance to show they could do the job.The lawsuit is trying to change the hiring process so that everyone is judged based on their skills and experience, not their race.

The Lawsuit Goes Deeper: Unequal Opportunities and Unfair Biases?

The lawsuit isn’t just about qualified applicants being rejected. It also alleges that the FAA gave unfair advantages to minority candidates during the hiring process.

Here are some specific examples:

Resumes of minority candidates were apparently marked with special words to make them stand out.

Answers to a biographical questionnaire (which was later banned) were allegedly given to some minority groups.

The questionnaire itself seems to have been biased – giving points for things that don’t relate to air traffic control, like the college subject you got your lowest grade in.

FAA system outage in january 2023 (Credits: Snopes)

Even more concerning, the lawsuit says the system gave no points for relevant experience, such as holding a pilot’s license or having prior air traffic control experience in the military. These seem like important skills for an air traffic controller!

We don’t know yet how the FAA will respond to these specific allegations.

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