April 17, 2009
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421

AFGE Wins Unprecedented Damages Award In EEO Case Against TSA

(WASHINGTON)— In another workplace victory for the American Federation of Government Employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently ruled that the Transportation Security Administration discriminated against a TSA employee based on disability when the agency removed him from his position four years ago.

On April 6, an EEOC administrative judge found that the Assistant Federal Security Director at Washington Dulles International Airport did not believe that the TSA was required to follow the Rehabilitation Act and the HR Specialist assigned to monitor requests for disability accommodation didn’t understand “basic tenets” of the law. Furthermore, in a chilling indictment, the judge found that the TSA’s attempt to justify its discriminatory actions was “disingenuous” and that the TSA’s “actions [were] both sufficiently illogical and unreasonable to render its articulated reason unworthy of credence.”

The EEO suit resulted from the TSA’s discriminatory transfer of a disabled Transportation Security Officer from a teaching position to a screening position. The Transportation Security Officer in question has a degenerative disability that at the time of his removal required him to use a cane when walking and standing. The TSO had successfully performed the duties of a TSA Approved Instructor and received an “exceeds” rating on his annual performance review. Despite this performance, the TSA arbitrarily transferred him from the teaching position to a screening position, which required up to 8 hours of standing. As a result of this illegal transfer, the TSO had no choice but to request disability retirement. AFGE subsequently filed a complaint with the EEOC on his behalf alleging constructive removal and discrimination based on disability.

The judge awarded the TSO back pay and an unprecedented $150,000 in compensatory damages, as well as attorney fees. The judge also ordered TSA to train its management and HR team at Dulles on disability rights, and post a notice to all TSA employees at Dulles about the finding and their right to be free from discrimination at the workplace.

“This is just the latest example of AFGE’s strong representation on behalf of TSOs,” said AFGE President John Gage. “Anyone familiar with the length of time it takes to process an EEO case, not to mention the burden on the employee to make his or her case, understands the significance of this victory. While other so-called unions have been playing it safe, AFGE has been blazing a representation trail for TSOs system-wide. Make no mistake, AFGE is the only union with a record of representing TSOs from the beginning.”

AFGE has been the only union to represent TSA employees since the agency's inception and with more than 10,000 members in 30 Locals across the country, is widely recognized as the TSA union.

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