The growing scandal over hiring practices at the Federal Aviation Administration now includes a lawsuit which seeks to force the FAA to produce racial and demographic data regarding recently hired air traffic control candidates.
The plaintiff, Jorge Alejandro Rojas, filed the suit in US District Court in California July 17th, after the FAA failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) within the legally mandated 20 day deadline. Rojas, a former Air Traffic Control student who was not accepted into the agency’s training program, submitted his FOIA request on June 3rd after a FOX Business Network investigation, Trouble in The Skies, exposed flaws and mismanagement in the FAA’s new hiring procedures for Air Traffic Controllers. The investigation uncovered alleged cheating on the FAA’s Biographical Questionnaire (BQ), a key test all Air Traffic Control candidates must pass in order to be considered for employment. The FAA refuses to release data regarding the use of the BQ which was implemented in 2014 as part of a program to make the FAA workforce more diverse.
According to the legal filing, Rojas’ FOIA request asked the FAA for, “A listing of those who were found eligible (passed the biographical assessment for the March 2015 Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee announcement.) These statistics include race, gender and ethnicity. No personal identifying information is requested.”
FOX Business has requested the same information but the FAA has refused multiple requests to respond. Rojas is preparing to sue the agency for violating the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Act. The FAA confirms it received Rojas’ request in a letter sent June 22, 2015 and that the request is still being processed.
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The FAA says the BQ was professionally validated although a source within the FAA says the test is flawed and managers are aware. One such manager, Joseph Teixeira, Vice President of Safety and Technical Training, resigned after FOX Business made public the problems within the FAA’s Air Traffic Controller program. FAA sources who wish to remain anonymous say Teixeira was forced to resign after he told FOX Business regarding those problems, “I am really not aware it’s not my area of expertise it’s not my problem.” The FAA is conducting an investigation of the alleged cheating exposed by FOX Business and the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General is conducting an investigation at the request of Congress.
FOX Business has obtained documents being reviewed by The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which say senior FAA managers are aware the agency is breaking the law and refuse to listen to advisors who are calling for the practices to cease.
The documents being reviewed and obtained by FOX Business include letters and papers from FAA Director of Labor and Employee Relations David Feder. He quit after only six months on the job. In one of the documents obtained by FOX Business, Feder writes, “I cannot stay at FAA and intentionally violate the law.”