Understanding Your Legal Rights as a TSA Employee

May 4, 2022
Jay Stafford

If you are one of the more than 50,000 employees of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), you have clear legal rights under federal law. TSA employees enjoy the same rights and protections as other federal government employees—from the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace to the protection against removal from service without due process.

But, while TSA employees have clear legal rights, these rights are not absolute. Additionally, senior personnel within the TSA (and other federal agencies) don’t always know—or follow—the law. As a result, it is important for TSA employees to know when their rights may have been violated, and to defend themselves effectively when facing unjustified adverse action.

What Are Your Legal Rights as a TSA Employee?

From the First Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act, numerous constitutional provisions, statutes and court decisions give important rights to TSA and other federal employees. When the government violates these rights, TSA employees can—and should—take legal action. It is important that employees hold the government accountable; and, in many cases, TSA employees whose rights have been violated will be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and other remedies.

Here is just a small sampling of your legal rights as a TSA employee:

  • Discrimination – All TSA employees are entitled to a workplace free of discrimination. This includes discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, religion, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.
  • Reasonable Accommodations – TSA employees who have qualifying disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations. If the TSA fails to provide a reasonable accommodation without valid justification, this can justify legal action.
  • Sexual Harassment – Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination, and it is prohibited in the federal work environment. This includes physical, verbal, and visual sexual harassment as well as exposure to a hostile work environment.
  • Wages and Overtime – Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), TSA employees are entitled to non-discriminatory wages, overtime pay (unless they are exempt), and various other wage and hour-related protections.
  • FMLA Leave – TSA employees are entitled to take job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when they qualify. Terminating, reassigning, or taking other adverse action against an employee because the employee has chosen to take FMLA leave is strictly prohibited.
  • Retaliation – TSA employees are protected against retaliation in many circumstances. Along with protection against retaliation for taking FMLA leave, this includes protection against retaliation for reporting improper conduct as well as retaliation for filing a grievance, complaint, or appeal.
  • Wrongful Termination – Due to the substantial protections afforded to federal employees, many TSA employees’ terminations are wrongful. If you have been wrongfully terminated from your employment with the TSA, you should consult with a lawyer promptly.

When Can TSA Employees Face Termination and Other Adverse Actions?

Like all federal agencies, the TSA can only terminate its employees in certain specific circumstances. Additionally, in many cases, TSA employees will be entitled to lesser forms of adverse action that allow them to keep their jobs. Generally speaking, termination of TSA employees is only permitted based upon the following:

  • Probationary Termination – TSA employees are generally subject to a one-year probationary period during which they can face termination on various grounds.
  • Termination for Misconduct – Examples of misconduct that may lead to termination include absence without official leave (AWOL), failure to follow instructions, lack of candor, and misuse or theft of government property.
  • Termination for Poor Performance – TSA employees who receive poor performance reviews can face termination in some cases.
  • Termination for PreEmployment Issues – TSA employees can also face termination for pre-employment issues (i.e., submitting a resume with false information).  

If termination is unwarranted (as will often be the case), these grounds can lead to other adverse actions such as:

  • Demotion
  • Furlough
  • Reassignment
  • Suspension

When facing adverse action, TSA employees are entitled to due process. What this specifically entails depends on the particular circumstances involved. TSA employees (like other federal employees) also have the right to appeal terminations and other adverse actions—in most cases to the TSA’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) or the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Get Help Protecting Your Legal Rights as a TSA Employee

If you need help protecting your legal rights as a TSA employee, we encourage you to contact us promptly. We are committed to protecting the rights of all federal employees. To schedule a confidential consultation as soon as possible, call 410-514-6099 or tell us how we can reach you online now.