Military officer fighting back:
Bryan Spence, a senior American Airlines pilot and US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who is an F-16 instructor, has filed a class action lawsuit against the Fort Worth-based airline, arguing that the company has invested employees’ retirement savings in investments that “pursue leftist political agendas.”
This lawsuit was filed on Friday in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
American’s pension plan has around 100,000 members, and around $26 billion in assets.
Spence argues that he has suffered financial harm from the airline choosing to invest in and recommending funds that meet ESG goals.
For those not familiar, “ESG” stands for environmental, social, and governance, and is a business framework for considering environmental and social issues in the context of corporate governance.
Spence argues that the funds that consider ESG matters underperform financially compared to non-ESG investments, as companies “engage in shareholder activism to achieve ESG policy agendas rather than maximize the risk-adjusted financial returns for plan participants.”
Specifically, Spence doesn’t like that policies have been chosen that consider sustainability, race, gender, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Some of American’s funds are specifically labeled as ESG-compliant, but Spence argues that many other funds have ESG goals without being labeled as such.
As Spence views it, “many American workers don’t realize that their hard-earned money is being used against them.”
Spence calls this “perhaps the most severe breach of the fiduciary standard in American history,” and states that “firms whose job is to deliver investment returns are instead weaponizing retirement funds, public pensions and other investments in pursuit of nakedly ideological goals.” . . . (read more on One Mile at a Time)
American Airlines Pilot Sues Company 401(k) Over ‘Woke’ ESG Investing (401K Specialist, 5 JUN 23)
In a case sure to be closely watched by the retirement industry, a senior American Airlines pilot is suing his employer, arguing that the company’s 401(k) plan—one of the largest in the country—picks investments that pursue “leftist political agendas.”
The class action lawsuit was filed last Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas by Bryan P. Spence individually and as a representative of a class of similarly situated persons.
It argues that over the past 6 years, the plan has underperformed from the airline choosing to invest in and recommend funds that meet ESG goals, causing him financial harm. . . .
Read the Lawsuit (PDF)
Many American workers don’t realize that their hard-earned money is being used against them. Firms whose job is to deliver investment returns are instead weaponizing retirement funds, public pensions and other investments in pursuit of nakedly ideological goals. It is perhaps the most severe breach of the fiduciary standard in American history.
–Marlo Oaks & Todd Russ, Editorial, A Historic Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Wall St. J., May 15, 2023