For months now, anyone driving by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) headquarters in Arlington may have seen a woman in business attire marching around the building holding up a sign and passing out flyers.
Alyssa Bermudez, a former TSA employee, has alleged that the agency fired her for reporting sexual harassment. Specifically, she endured lewd remarks, suggestions that she was sleeping with her supervisor and other sexually charged comments. Ms. Bermudez's immediate supervisor supported her claims of harassment. He was demoted.
Instead, the man who Ms. Bermudez claims harassed her was promoted. Shortly after this promotion, Ms. Bermudez was placed on leave. Five days before her probationary period was finished, Ms. Bermudez was terminated. For employment law purposes, this is critical, as probationary employees have fewer employee rights than federal employees who have completed their probationary period.
Increased complaints point to a problematic workplace environment
Ms. Bermudez's protests are emblematic of an overall problem within the TSA. The federal Office of Special Counsel investigated and published a report stating that TSA employees have brought 121 complaints against the TSA in 2016, up from 87 in 2015. This is a 39% year over year increase. Furthermore, the TSA has wasted millions in taxpayer dollars illegally reassigning whistleblowers as a form of retaliation.
An oversight committee in the House of Representatives investigated the TSA as well, publishing a report in April 2016. It stated ""As a result of a chilling culture of intimidation and retaliation at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), security gaps go unaddressed, and senior employees are not held accountable for misconduct."
While the TSA denies the specific allegations against Ms. Bermudez, there is little doubt that the TSA itself has a long way to go before it can be considered an appropriate workplace for all of the people who work there.
No one should have to endure sexual harassment, retaliation or discrimination in the workplace. If you face any of these issues at work, a skilled lawyer can provide invaluable assistance. Employees in both the public and private sectors in Washington D.C. and across Maryland have relied on Thatcher Law Firm to provide the highest caliber of legal representation.
Source: She says she was harassed by superiors. Now she protests outside the TSA for hours. Washington Post, November 30, 2016, by Manuel Roig-Franzia