Irving-based ExxonMobil's Allegedly Ageist Pilot Retirement Policy Survives Federal Challenge

Categories: Legal Battles

exxon pilots.gif
ExxonMobil doesn't want to fly the graying skies.
A six-year court battle waged by the feds against an ExxonMobil policy mandating the retirement of all corporate pilots at the age of 60 was dealt its second defeat in a Dallas federal court. The challenge, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, characterized the policy as ageist and in violation of federal law.

The district court, as before, sided with ExxonMobil. The multinational oil and gas company argued that its policy mirrored a previous Federal Aviation Administration rule setting the same limit. In 2008, Judge Ed Kinkeade, the magistrate who authored the opinion, agreed and tossed EEOC's challenge. The commission appealed and won a reversal in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which remanded the case to district court.

Kinkeade remained equally unconvinced in the latest go-round, denying motions to strike ExxonMobil's witnesses, who included neurologists and the director of Dallas' Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute. Each testified to the unpredictability of incapacitating heart attacks and strokes. Indeed, he ruled, under federal law, an employer can't discriminate based on age. Unless, and that's a big unless, youth is a "qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of a particular business."

In this case, that business is flying Exxon honchos all over the world in private jets that start at around $65 million apiece.

"Generally, Exxon contends that aging causes a progressive physiological and cognitive decline, and that it remains impossible to determine whether or when an individual pilot will experience a medical event jeopardizing aviation safety," the judge writes. "This was and is the rationale in support of the FAA's age-based rule."

Suzanne M. Anderson, an EEOC attorney, would only say, "Because the case is still active, we're considering our options right now. We're considering our appellate options."

The battle, it seems, will continue.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

In order to pilot an aircraft carrying passengers and be compensated for doing so, the pilot must have a commercial rating on their license.


The FAA considers compensation to be anything including purchasing fuel (if the pilot owns the aircraft).


These pilots are paid to fly someone somewhere.


The FAA limits commercial ratings to people under the age of 60.


The Judicial Council of the Fifth Circuit (, responsible disqualifying federal judges "...whose aging causes a progressive physiological and cognitive decline..." should take sua sponte action to iunvestigate and prosecute Kinkeade (age 61) before his clear and present "judicial-disability" leads to yet another "...medical event jeopardizing..." the civil rights of litigants appearing before him.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter




pilot retirement age is now 65 and has been since 2007.  If a pilot in command of an international flgith is over age 60 he must fly with someone under the age of 60.  domestic pilots may both be 60+





Closer examination of Kinkeade's Personal Financial Reports for 2003-2010 (available at and the with the Texas Secretary of State filings for the company, Rio Viga, L.L.C., in which Kinkeade admits a financial interests therein,  shows a possible cause for the symptoms Kinkeade is showing for a " physiological and cognitive decline..." in his judicial reasoning that may be grounds to disqualify him on grounds of judicial misconduct rather than judicial disability.


Large Texas lawyer-lobbyer ("lawbyer") firms, like Baker Bott, L.L.P. one of the lawbyer firms in the Exxon case, for decades have used similar privately held, unaudited  L.L.C.s to launder bribes to state court judges (such as Kinkeade was prior to G.W. Bush elevating him to his current job in 2002) as quid pro quo for blatant honest services fraud in cases in which the lawbyer firms have interests in winning.


EEOC: petition the Judicial Council and the FBI to investigate the benefits that Kinkeade derives or will derive from being a "member" of Rio Viga, L.L.C. and determine if Rio Viga, L.L.C. is a surrogate for Kinkeade's interest in Exxon Mobil Corporation or clients of lawbyer firms like Baker Botts, L.L.P.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault