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Sixth Circuit dismisses age discrimination claim brought by air traffic controller

In the case entitled Yeschick v. Mineta, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Mr. Yeschick's age discrimination claim.  Yeschick was a member of the air traffic controllers union when President Reagan fired them for conducting an unauthorized strike.  Reagan also prohibited the union members from applying for re-employment.  That ban was overturned by President Clinton ten years later and Mr. Yeschick applied for re-employment.  When he was passed over by the FAA, he filed an EEOC claim and then a lawsuit.

Mr. Yeschick's claim was not honored by the EEOC and it was dismissed by the District Court judge.  He appealed to the Sixth Circuit, alleging several errors by the lower court.  The appellate judges rejected Yeschick's claims of error.  It pointed out initially that his attorney's failure to respond to a motion for summary disposition was not "excusable neglect" because the attorney was required to monitor the pending docket and to maintain a current e-mail address (the attorney had changed his e-mail address during the pendency of the claim). 

The Court also held that Yeshick's failure to maintain a current address with the FAA caused him to be removed from the active list of controllers seeking employment.  It noted that under prior case law, a prospective employer's requirement that potential employees maintain current application information is not discriminatory.  It also relied upon an earlier decision requiring prospective employees to maintain their "availability" to prospective employers and deemed Yeshick's change of address without notice to the FAA to be a violation of this obllgation.

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