“Sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-disabled vet group, grossly incompetent. That’s the general consensus among air marshals.”

~Federal Air Marshal (identity concealed), answering the question “How would you describe the management in the air marshal service?”

The CBS Evening News reported on the Federal Air Marshals last night. Article here; video link here; embedded video below:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

From the article:

Nearly two dozen current or former marshals have told CBS News the agency is dominated by an “old boys club” of white, male supervisors — mainly ex-secret service agents who, they allege, routinely discriminate, intimidate and retaliate against employees who question their actions or authority.

“This behavior has just spread like a cancer and it’s out of control,” the marshal said.

The article spells out more cases of reported discrimination in Employment Equal Opportunity (EEO) complaints

In New Jersey, a female air marshal contends she was told “women don’t belong here.”

In Chicago, two marshals charge they were fired after complaining their supervisors used racial slurs.

In Cincinnati, six air marshals say they were harassed based on age, race and physical disabilities.

ProPublica adds to this in their piece Air Marshals Dogged by Discrimination Complaints in Field Offices  (and crossposted to Mother Jones:

The Transportation Security Administration, the parent agency of the air marshal service, is investigating allegations of discrimination in the Orlando field office after several air marshals complained that supervisors created a “Jeopardy”-style game board with derogatory nicknames for African-Americans, Hispanics, homosexuals and veterans as a way to mete out discipline and undesirable assignments.

…In Cincinnati, an attorney representing six air marshals asked a federal judge for a restraining order against TSA on Jan. 12. He said supervisors opened a disciplinary investigation against one client after she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit (PDF) and then intimidated witnesses as they prepared to testify on the woman’s behalf.

ProPublica has interviewed or obtained complaints from 85 current and former air marshals in nearly every one of the agency’s 21 field offices over the past year and half. They all told similar stories of being treated unfairly in promotions, assignments or discipline by supervisors who target those who speak up or don’t fit a certain mold. Some air marshals who tried to address their complaints through proper channels say they felt demoralized by the process.

And, ProPublica has mentioned Veronica Doe’s case:

A transsexual air marshal in Miami sued saying she was harassed repeatedly after transitioning from male to female and was told that if she needed to use the bathroom she would have to go to Lester’s Diner a quarter-mile down the road.

And what a surprise — Federal Air Marshals supervisors (per the ProPublica piece) have engaged in threats and harassment of Air Marshals who have filed EEO claims, or have substantiated (in testimony or affidavit) the claims of other Air Marshals.

So, in case you haven’t been keeping track, here is a list of the minority groups the Federal Air Marshal’s supervisors have allegedly discriminated against, or allegedly used epithets against, as reported in all of the articles we’ve reported on:

• African-Americans

• Hispanics

• Women

• Gays

• Lesbians

• Transsexuals

• The Disabled

• Veterans

• Disabled Veterans

• Those who submit or substantiate EEO complaints.

As one of our blenders said about these alleged incidents:

[T]he only difference between racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia is the target.

If a substantial number of the complaints against the Federal Air Marshals’ supervisors are true, this would seem to confirm that axiom.

And to repeat myself from yesterday:

Tell me how safe you feel about flying after watching the video and/or reading the story; tell me how comfortable you are knowing Federal Air Marshals are accusing their supervisors that allegedly refers to gays, lesbians and African-Americans by epithets, as well as supervisors alledgedly discriminating against a transsexual Federal Air Marshal who is serving her country to help keep the flying public safe.

I know I’m not feeling safe or comfortable at all about flying at this point.


Further Reading:

* Dallas Morning News: President’s Budget Calls For 1,000 New Body Scanners And More Air Marshals

* Transcript: Transcript of Background Call with Senior DHS Officials on the Department’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Proposal



* Federal Air Marshals: Problems Beyond “Buckwheat,” “Pickle Smokers,” & Trans Discrimination?

* Federal Air Marshals Managers Allegedly Ridiculed Lesbians, Gays, And African-Americans

* Sex And Gender Based Employment Discrimination By Homeland Security Department Alleged

* New York Times: “New Protections for Transgender Federal Workers”

* U.S. Government Adds Gender Identity Protections To USAJobs Website

* Maddow: Obama Names First Transgender Nominee; USAJobs Adds Gender Identity

Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen