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Sterling Employment Law

Whistleblower for TSA wins Supreme Court decision

In the wake of 9/11, a TSA federal air marshal unleashed information that TSA's Federal Air Marshal Service intended to remove air marshals from transcontinental flights. These were flights that were targeted for another terrorist attack by Al Qaeda per a confirmed 2003 plan.

Because of the federal air marshal's whistleblowing in 2003, protection for passengers was restored, and the planned terrorist attack was prevented. But the whistleblower paid for his act by being fired from the TSA and banned from law enforcement.

In January, 2015, the federal air marshal won his job back in a Supreme Court 7-2 victory. Within his first week back on the job, he disclosed information that the reforms that were to have taken place after 9/11 had not been enacted. For example, there were supposed to have been cockpit doors installed that open into the cabin and secondary barriers created between the cockpit and the passenger areas.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, who is the government watchdog whistleblower agency, investigated and found "substantial likelihood" that the federal air marshal was correct about the aviation security violations.

According to the federal air marshal's attorney, he has repeatedly found and sought action against vulnerabilities that could be life-threatening. Still, he says the TSA's priority is to get rid of him.

Doing what is right should never cost a person his or her job. It is unfortunate that whistleblowers still face retaliation despite laws that are meant to protect them. Anyone who feels they are being retaliated against for standing up for something that is immoral or illegal at their place of business should contact an attorney at once. Everyone has a right to their integrity and should be protected.

Source: GAP, "Office of Special Counsel Backs Whistleblower on Further Aviation Security Breakdowns," Feb. 08, 2018

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