A stout heart charges air marshal program with discrimination

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 24, 2014 

Samantha L. Stout wanted to be a federal air marshal. She is 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighs approximately 100 pounds. 

Ms. Stout successfully completed the first phase of training. Then came the second phase, from which she was eventually dropped. She says, in a lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security, that officials believed she "could not be an effective federal air marshal because she was not a strong tall man."

Liam Neeson, who stars as an embattled federal air marshal in the new movie "Non-Stop," is 6 feet 4 inches tall. So there's that.

This is what Ms. Stout says happened during her real-world training, in the words of U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan:

"According to Ms. Stout, her instructors subjected her to a variety of demeaning and abusive behavior, including: ridiculing her on the basis of her sex and size; refusing to provide assistance in hanging her target for shooting practice and refusing to allow others to help her...kneeling on their knees to speak with her and bending down to shout in her face...reducing the quality of her training; creating and maintaining a hostile training environment; and enforcing standards more harshly against her."

On Monday, Judge Sullivan declined the government's request to dismiss Ms. Stout's lawsuit. He also declined the government's alternative proposal to shift the case to New Jersey, where Ms. Stout underwent training. Instead, he accepted Ms. Stout's alternative of moving the case over to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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