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Adverse Spotlight: TSA Under Employment Law Spotlight

Based upon any number of indicators, principals at the federal Transportation Security Administration have a fair amount of remedial work aimed at reputation restoration to do.

Myriad excoriating reports and critical comments regarding alleged instances of sexual harassment against workers, coupled with illegal retaliatory responses against whistleblowers, have revealed a work environment replete with fundamental problems, especially from the perspective of many female employees.

One of them is a former worker who filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after lodging several protests internally to TSA supervisors regarding treatment she found to be belittling and demeaning.

That ex-employee, who was a decorated military member in a war zone prior to assuming her employment with the TSA, now routinely spends time outside the agency picketing it and handing out literature that chronicles its alleged discriminatory work culture.

It would seem reasonably hard to argue against her view. The Washington Post terms the TSA a "troubled agency assailed by Congress for its treatment of whistleblowers who raise concerns about problems as diverse as alleged sexual harassment and [airport] security lapses." A House committee summary cites "a chilling culture of intimidation" at the agency.

And then there are the hard numbers, which paint an empirical picture of serious internal problems. According to The Office of Special Counsel, which probes employment law problems in the federal realm, the OSC has received more than 120 complaints alleging whistleblower retaliation so far this year.

One assistant director at the TSA says that, "Our morale stinks."

And even TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger has acknowledged that agency behavior toward whistleblowers has been "inappropriate."

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