The Des Moines Airport Authority Board recently agreed to settle a lawsuit with a former employee to settle allegations of age discrimination.
A $55,000 settlement was recently announced that will end an age discrimination lawsuit filed against the Des Moines Airport Authority Board. The suit was originally filed by the airport’s executive director, Roy Criss, back in May 2020 over allegations that he was “passed over for a job he was qualified for because of his age.” Of the $55,000 settlement, Criss will receive $33,000 and his lawyers will get $22,000. However, as a condition of the settlement agreement, the airport board is not admitting fault.
What happened, exactly? Well, according to the suit, Criss “applied for the communications, marketing, and air service development manager position but was never granted an interview.” Prior to that, he was working as the “marketing manager for the Office of Aviation at the Iowa Department of Transportation and later started his own marketing company, with Des Moines International Airport as a client,” the suit noted.
He was hired by the airport in 2008 as the air service development and public relations manager, but was “laid off in 2013 as part of a reduction in force.” In January 2019, he “applied to the new airport position.” The suit stated:
“Because Director Foley let age motivate his hiring decisions, Mr. Criss wrongfully lost the opportunity to be hired for a position he was highly qualified for.”
Criss wasn’t the only one who filed a lawsuit against the airport. In fact, he filed his suit in conjunction with another former employee, Anthony Howard. Howard was passed over for a job and settled in June 2020 for $140,000. Both men argued that airport Executive Director Kevin Foley “chose to hire candidates in their 30s, assuming an older applicant was not motivated because he was looking for a place to retire.”
Additionally, the suit alleged that Foley “announced during an employee meeting that he was actively dropping the average age of the airport’s workforce and, in another meeting, that he had reduced the median age of the airport’s workforce to 45 from 58.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the suit claimed Foley allowed “a derogatory, offensive poster to be displayed showing a cartoon of a shriveled, shirtless, older Caucasian man with the caption ‘You are older than you think’ followed by a list of names of older airport employees, including Howard.” Alarmingly, the cartoon was allegedly “hung near a placard on an empty office that read ‘AARP Headquarters.’”
As part of the lawsuit, Criss sought damages to cover “lost wages, future wages, emotional distress and equitable relief.” Before the settlement was announced, the suit was scheduled to go to trial in July 2022.