Monday, February 1, 2010

Who wants well-aged diplomats well-refined?

Old, Old WineImage by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

BLT Update on Colton v. Clinton

The Blog of Legal Times has an update on the Colton v. Clinton case:
The State Department filed its motion to dismiss a case challenging the U.S. Foreign Service's mandatory retirement policy, arguing the age cutoff was a valid piece of Congressional decision making.

Elizabeth Colton, a 64-year-old Foreign Services officer, sued the State Department in September alleging she had been denied an overseas assignment because of her age.
The government shot back yesterday, arguing that Colton was trying to upend long-settled law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has already found that the retirement policy at issue, which is contained in the Foreign Services Act, was exempt from the ADEA, the government said. It added that the Supreme Court has also ruled that the age cutoff does not violate equal protection.

"Congress viewed the mandatory retirement provision as critical to maintaining the highest level of performance by 'the corps of public servants who hold positions critical to our foreign relations,'" the government's filing states.

Because the retirement policy is valid, Colton's claims of discrimination are meritless, the government argued.

"It should come as no surprise that the range of assignments available to plaintiff (or any other foreign service officer) may diminish as she approaches the mandatory retirement age of 65 – the most obvious example being an increasingly limited range of assignment opportunities in positions that would require her to serve past her 65th birthday," the government stated.

Brrrr…. Is it just me or does that sound like freezer time out there?  I supposed that means when you get closer to 65 you should what -- expect a work life of fewer options? Lesser choices? More broccoli instead of asparagus tours?  One-year hardship assignments? Short-short assignments? Bridge assignments? Hanging from the ceiling assignments? 

(Just now -- this makes me wonder if there are near-65 folks working in the hot, AfPak “bureau?”)

This kind of reminds me of, well -- throwing out a well-aged wine just when it’s well-refined and in its prime.

Hebrew prophet Isaiah says “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”  Sounds like a great party but even the new 40 won’t get invites.

Who wants well-aged diplomats well refined? It seems -- not the State Dept. despite suffering from staffing and experience gaps. 

Unfortunately, aging is in all our fates; well refined, not.    
Prior BLT coverage of the case is here.  We have written previously about this case (see related posts below). 

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