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Working for TSA Is Only Thing Worse Than Being Searched by TSA, Report Finds

The House report will make you feel sorry for TSA employees against your will.

MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS/NewscomMARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS/NewscomMillions of travelers hate the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), thanks to its invasive body scans, its pat-downs that border on molestation, and its general ineffectiveness when it comes to evaluating threats.

But it's not just fliers who are treated terribly. The TSA is also plagued by a "toxic" workplace culture where senior officials' misconduct goes unpunished and those who threaten to speak out face retaliation, according to a report from Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The committee says its probe started in 2015, when it started receiving "credible allegations" of wrongdoing. The investigators found a host of problems, which the committee believes are directly related to low employee morale. The report, released yesterday, says:

The toxic combination of unchecked misconduct by senior officials and retaliation against rank-and-file whistleblowers undermined employee morale, reflected in the agency's astronomical attrition rates (as high as 20 percent in some segments of the workforce during the period in question) and abysmal ranking in a government-wide job satisfaction survey (336 out of 339 agencies and components in 2017).

The first part of the committee's report dealt with alleged misconduct from agency administrators. One official, for example, is accused of sexually harassing more than one worker. Mark Livingston, who supervised one of those employees, says he was threatened when he confronted the alleged harasser. "[H]e told me if I didn't lie for him that I was going to be on his 'S' list," Livingston told the investigators. "And then when I told him that I would not lie after he sexually harassed her, he told me that if I didn't, him and the others couldn't work with me."

A source tells ABC News that the alleged harasser is Joseph Salvator, who still works at the agency as deputy director of security operations. In 2016, Salvator was accused of harassment in The Washington Post by Alyssa Bermudez, a former TSA worker.

Salvator wasn't alone, the reports says. In 2015, for instance, a TSA official was arrested for driving while intoxicated. She blamed another TSA employee, who she claimed had driven the car before abandoning her. The official eventually confessed to the DWI, and the TSA's Office of Professional Responsibility recommended she be fired. Instead she got a two-week suspension.

In another case, the report says a senior TSA official at a midwestern airport called Muslims "stupid ragheads" and made "mooing sounds" at a pregnant worker. Despite "numerous" complaints from employees, the official "was allowed to engage in inappropriate behavior for at least seven years," the report says.

How were TSA officials able to get away such misconduct? According to the report, whistleblowers and other "disfavored employees" were punished with "involuntary directed reassignments," meaning they often had to move hundreds of miles away. The TSA has since changed its directed reassignment policy the committee says, but was still forced to pay out at least $1 million in settlements to affected workers.

Finally, the report says the agency "obstructed investigations into TSA misconduct and retaliation." When the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Special Counsel investigated many of the allegations, the TSA either wouldn't release relevant documents or "produced heavily redacted documents," the report says.

These accusations are not terribly surprising. Whether it's the surveillance, the stalking, or the fondling, this isn't an agency with a great track record when it comes to treating people well. It's not exactly a shock that it doesn't respect its employees any more than it respects American fliers.

Photo Credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • Bubba Jones||

    20% attrition is high? That's an average of 5 years before leaving.

  • BYODB||

    When I was in E.R. Admin ours was around 50%, so yeah.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    Having gone to an ER room a couple time to attend other people I can see why; it's kind of a hellscape.

  • Drave Robber||

    abysmal ranking in a government-wide job satisfaction survey (336 out of 339 agencies and components in 2017)


    Just curious what the last three are.

  • Thrackmoor||

    Office of the Official Crack Whore
    Office of the Assistant Crack Whore
    Department of Felching

  • DrZ||

    Something is wrong with this because I have inside information that one of these agencies is the Department of Redundancy Department.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Good grief I should have read the comments first.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Welcome to federal employment.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    abysmal ranking in a government-wide job satisfaction survey (336 out of 339 agencies and components in 2017)

    I want to know what the worse three were.

  • Dillinger||

    Office of the Official Crack Whore
    Office of the Assistant Crack Whore
    Department of Felching

    couldn't help myself.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I attribute the problems to the quasi-faux-military aspect of the organization. They get all puffed up over such a mighty vital job, but since everyone knows they are incompetent parasites, they have to puff themselves up even more to compensate. I've long wondered when they'd start wearing black uniforms with white striping and award medals for finding vibrators which turned themselves on from handler abuse. Maybe sleeve hash marks for number of crotches groped above and beyond the call of duty.

  • BYODB||

    I have no tears to shed for our sad faced brownshirts.

  • croaker||

    This time, the shirts are blue.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Hire onto a job as a jack-booted thug.
    Act surprised your managers are jack-booted thugs.
    Sympathy: 0

  • croaker||

    TSA delenda est

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    When I stop getting molested by these fuckers, I'll give a shit. Its like 50% of the time they grab my dick. At the least they should have to give you a coupon for 2 free drinks at the airport bar afterwards.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    When it started, anyone with half a clue knew the TSA was going to be a corrupt monster and a complete waste of everything. Especially when they were allowed to unionize.

  • DrZ||

    Why this effort was federalize and not given to private contractors was one big, dumb mistake we will regret forever.

  • Woodchipper of the Apocalypse||

    So reason puts "credible allegations" and "toxic" in scare quotes so as not to slander the hardworking apparatchiks in the TSA upper-echelons. But in other articles concerning a certain newsworthy event of which I imagine you can guess, the phrase "credible accusation" is bandied about with impunity, with nary a scare quote to be found.

    What a bizarre magazine this has become.

  • ThomasD||

    Inevitable when the only people you can hire are wet behind the ears J school grads pretending the be libertarians for the purpose of getting a paycheck until they can move on to a 'real' media gig.

    Don't want those anti government 'slanders' coming back to bite you later.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    No kidding. Funny, I was just thinking about how Reason keeps sounding less and less and reasonable, and more and more like a partisan left-wing rag.

  • DrZ||

    A vast federal-union-quasi police force. What could possibly go wrong?

  • CuriousKevMo||

    "339 agencies"

    That's the worst bit of this article. 339 federal agencies...FFS!

  • Necron 99||

    The House report will make you feel sorry for TSA employees against your will.

    Guess again.

  • n00bdragon||

    A high price to be sure to secure the safety of America. They are keeping us safe, right guys? I mean, at least 5% of the time? Give or take 5%?

  • Cloudbuster||

    There is nothing that could make me feel sorry for TSA employees.

  • Raoul Duke||

    They may be an awful organization with terrible management and culture problems, but at least they don't make us any safer either.

  • David1234||

    Writers should not be predicting in headlines how readers will respond to the report. Just talk about the subject of the report.

  • David1234||

    Writers should not be predicting in headlines how readers will respond to the report. Just talk about the subject of the report.

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