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Judge Grants Summary Judgment for Exxon Mobil in Age Discrimination Case

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DALLAS, Texas, September 19, 2012 -- On September 13, 2012, Judge Ed Kinkeade of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment for firm client Exxon Mobil Corporation in a suit challenging the company’s practice of removing its corporate pilots from flight duty at a certain age (formerly 60, now 65). 

Baker Botts L.L.P. represented ExxonMobil in this matter.

At the time the suit was commenced, ExxonMobil had a practice of removing its pilots from flight duty at age 60. ExxonMobil’s practice was based on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Age 60 Rule, which provided that no commercial airline could use the services of any person as a pilot if he had reached his 60th birthday. Alleging age discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sought relief on behalf of three pilots whom ExxonMobil removed from flight duty at age 60.

The Court concluded as a matter of law that ExxonMobil’s practice is permissible as a bona fide occupational qualification under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Court first ruled that the work performed by ExxonMobil’s pilots is congruent with the work performed by commercial airline pilots in all material ways. It then determined that the rationale of the FAA’s age-based rule for commercial airline pilots remains valid.

The Court held that ExxonMobil provided conclusive evidence that the risks of sudden incapacitation and health deterioration increase with age, that these health risks will eventually undermine a pilot’s ability to fly safely, and that no test can predict whether or when these risks will become a reality.



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