Wal-Mart suit sparks calls from TSA union to address diversity issues

The American Federation of Government Employees, a federal employee union representing 625,000 workers in the federal government, renewed its call today for adequate staffing throughout the TSA and for the TSA to address critical diversity issues or face the possibility of a discrimination suit not unlike the one Wal-Mart is currently facing.

Approximately 1.6 million plaintiffs are expected to enter into a gender discrimination lawsuit pending against Wal-Mart. The lawsuit’s class action status is now being debated by the Supreme Court.

The AFGE points to a high number of complaints from Transportation Security Officers across the country with concerns of gender biases surrounding scheduling and shift-bidding as evidence of widespread discrimination issues.

“There are overtones of gender discrimination throughout the nation’s airports, and AFGE has heard from enough TSOs to raise our concern level to one involving a possible Wal-Mart-style class action lawsuit,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “We have been monitoring this situation for years, and it unfortunately only seems to be getting worse.”

AFGE states that female TSOs are being forced from their baggage screening position to the checkpoints because of the male to female ratio needed for passenger screening. This affects not only scheduling, but also seniority and pay. This could lead to a pileup of gender discrimination issues, AFGE reports.

“Here you have a prime example of a reactive management, rather than one that is proactive,” Gage said. “TSA has had nine years to figure out what is the right percentage of female officers. Instead of recruiting and hiring from a pool of new female hires, management is forcing all of its current employees to scramble for a solution. TSA’s approach only serves to further demoralize an already stressed workforce, and to create a disruption in morale and service.

“AFGE is conducting an investigation into what our TSOs believe may be agency-wide gender bias,” Gage added. “Whether or not this constitutes legal discrimination, it still is a very serious issue that TSA management must address.”

AFGE is the only union to represent TSOs since the agency’s inception, and currently has more than 12,000 dues-paying members in 40 AFGE TSA Locals across the country.

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