A number of FBI Agents have sued their employer alleging a policy of age discrimination. The policy in question is the FBI’s procedure for dealing with squad supervisors, who are only allowed to hold their position for five years, before having to be transferred to Washington D.C., receive a promotion, take a demotion to retain in the office, or retire.
The lawsuit claims that this “up or out” policy unfairly affects employees over 40 within the FBI, as most squad supervisors are over this age upon entering the position. While designed to decrease bottlenecks in hiring within FBI management, and to allow for younger agents to advance, it seems that this policy has had a disparate impact on workers over 40. Under the ADEA, it is illegal to make employment decisions based on age, or those that would have a disparate impact on older employees.
The implications of the “up or out” policy are that many FBI workers at age 40 or higher are forced to make difficult decisions, such as whether to take a substantial pay cut and demotion at such a stage in their career, or uproot and move to Washington, D.C. if they are unable to find a suitable promotion.
It’s startling to see a Federal employer enforce a policy which is clearly having a disparate impact on employees over 40, in violation of Federal law. Read up on your rights under Age Discrimination law and what you can do to fight it here.