City Hall

Records Reveal Most of Those Targeted by McGinn Cuts Are Over 40

By Erica C. Barnett March 26, 2010

A public-disclosure request by the city employee group Working Seattle reveals that of employees the city identifies as managers or strategic advisors—the two classifications Mayor Mike McGinn planned to target as part of his plan to cut employees he called "political appointees" during last year's campaign—fully 85 percent are over 40, making them part of a class protected under city age-discrimination law.

Of a total of 782 strategic managers and advisors identified in the city's response to the records request by the city's personnel department, 665 are over 40. In some departments, the percentage of 40-and-up advisors and managers is significantly higher than 85 percent. For example, in the police department, 88 percent of 34 managers and strategic advisors are over 40; at Seattle Center, 92 percent of 24 managers and strategic advisors are over 40; and at the parks department, 95 percent of 56 managers and strategic advisors are over 40.

This presents one obvious conclusion: If McGinn does eliminate the promised 200 managers and strategic advisors (a position he backed off from slightly but subsequently reiterated), that will represent a major brain drain of the city's most experienced workers. More ominously, it also raises the question of whether the strategic advisors will file a class lawsuit for age discrimination—a possibility several of them brought up at a February Civil Service Commission meeting held to allow employees to express their concerns about McGinn's proposal.

A representative from Working Seattle has not yet returned an email inquiring about the likelihood of a lawsuit if the cuts move forward.
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