(WASHINGTON)—After the American Federation of Government Employees took his case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an administrative judge last month ruled that the Transportation Security Administration unlawfully discriminated against a security screener based on his religion.
The Transportation Security Officer, a disabled Vietnam veteran and a devout Catholic who was employed at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, was denied religious accommodations and subsequently was terminated.
On Sept. 28, 2007 the judge found that by refuting the complainants request for Sundays off, the agency had discriminated against the TSO on the basis of his religion and therefore was liable for back pay with interest, as well as any pay raises and/or benefits that would have been earned during this time. TSA also was ordered to reinstate the complainant to his position or provide one substantially similar, and offer religious accommodations.
“In the agency’s pursuit of flexibility—in many cases—employee’s schedules are completely altered every six months,” said AFGE Assistant General Counsel Gony F. Goldberg. “Religious accommodation is one area in which TSA does not have free reign.”
This is the second EEOC victory for AFGE against TSA, involving an employee who was discriminated against based on religion. AFGE currently represents TSOs in almost 40 EEO cases. More than half of all DHS EEO cases involve TSA employees.
“In a nation which claims to encourage the exercising of religious freedom, TSA's behavior, as an agent of the government, is particularly disturbing,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “This case underscores what we have known to be true since TSA was created—only a strong union voice in the workplace will protect the rights of these American workers.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.