Federal lawmakers are currently investigating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for allegedly retaliating against workers who have reported safety violations and security lapses. This ongoing investigation, which was spearheaded by the House Oversight Committee about a month ago, is focused on determining whether:
- TSA officials ignored reports regarding agents’ violations of federal security protocols.
- TSA tried to force whistleblowers to quit by relocating them.
- TSA paid sizeable bonuses to senior management who allegedly knew about the violations/retaliatory practices.
- Discriminatory and retaliatory practices are systemic and widespread at TSA.
A Closer Look at the Allegations against TSA
TSA became the focus of lawmakers’ investigation after an assistant security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport came forward as a whistleblower against the administrtion. Since then, at least two other TSA employees have stepped forward, reporting similar violations and retaliation.
According to these whistleblowers’ accounts, they had witnessed various security lapses, reporting them to TSA supervisors, all of whom ignored the reports – and some of whom were even awarded bonuses despite the breaches (One official is alleged to have received more than $70,000 in bonuses over a 3-year period).
Among the specific security lapses that these TSA whistleblowers reported included TSA failures to:
- Detect fake weapons and bombs being carried through security lines – One audit indicated that, as much as 95 percent of the time, TSA screeners were missing these fake weapons/bombs.
- Use orange tags to identify bags that had already passed through screening
- Conduct thorough, adequate background checks on the passengers, as well as the airport workers, seeking pre-screening authorizations – In fact, one TSA employee characterized this failure as being so egregious is was as though TSA was “handing out pre-check like Halloween candy.” Similarly, it was documented that this failure led even led to a convicted terrorist being allowed to pre-check even though a TSA agent had properly identified the terrorist.
In at least two cases, TSA is also alleged to have reassigned the whistleblowers – after they reported the safety violations – in an effort to try to get them to quit. As one of these whistleblowers has explained:
[At the time] I was going through a divorce and was not going to give up custody of my kid… [TSA] knew they couldn’t fire me. They were hoping that the relocation would make me quit.
Responding to the allegations and ongoing investigation, TSA has issued a written statement, explaining that:
TSA takes any allegations of improper conduct seriously and is committed to transparency and accountability.
Former TSA Interim Director Kenneth S. Kasprisin has noted, however, that TSA is plagued with serious issues. In fact, Kasprisin has even gone so far as to denounce TSA for its “toxic culture from top to bottom.”
As the findings of this investigation into TSA become available, we will report the latest updates in a future blog. In the meantime, we encourage you to share your opinions about the allegations against TSA – and the ongoing investigation – with us on Facebook & Google+.
Contact a Los Angeles Whistleblower Attorneys at Urbanic & Associates
If you are ready to blow the whistle on an employer’s (or another entity’s) illegal actions, you can turn to the experienced Los Angeles whistleblower attorneys at Urbanic & Associates for aggressive advocacy and effective representation in your pursuit of justice. For more than 15 years, our lawyers have been dedicated to helping our clients stand up to even the most formidable opponents as we bring their cases to the best possible resolutions.
To discuss your options for getting on the path to justice, call (310) 216-0900 or send our firm an email using the contact form on this page.
From our offices based in Los Angeles, Attorney James Urbanic provides superior representation to clients throughout Los Angeles County and southern California, including (but not limited to) those in Glendale, Burbank, Alhambra, Van Nuys, Santa Monica and Orange County.