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EEOC to investigate TSA favoritism

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Another management discrimination and favoritism investigation will be launched against the Transportation Security Administration, this time by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In a Jan. 25 letter (.pdf), the EEOC said it has decided to conduct its own investigation after the Homeland Security Department auditors found widespread favoritism in hiring and promotion practices as well as a failure to address EEO complaints. The department's office of inspector general detailed their findings in an October report (.pdf).

While the EEOC helped conduct the previous DHS investigation, the commission says auditors' findings have spurred it to act on its own. The commission says it wants to pursue allegations that the TSA's Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing Office is in non-compliance with workforce protections and that this is jeopardizing its objectives.

The IG report signaled out whistleblower protections as one area of non-compliance, saying employees that raised concerns about management decisions or EEO violations "could reasonably perceive reassignment or demotion as a form of retaliation for their roles as complainants."

The EEOC notes that it has only four full-time evaluation employees and says the evaluation will not be completed until the second quarter of fiscal 2013.

"These protections were put in a place for a reason – and we cannot allow discriminatory practices to undermine TSA's critical mission of securing this nation against the terrorist threat," said Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

On Nov. 30, Thompson sent TSA Administrator John Pistole a letter (.pdf) expressing concerns that the TSA failed to concur with the DHS IG recommendation to establish an independent panel of review for discrimination claims by TTAC employees.

In its initial response to the report, TSA said the reason it disagreed with developing a separate panel for legacy TTAC employees "would result in an unequal application of position management" and an "unnecessary layer of review on top of the internal and external review avenues already in place."

For more:
- download the EEOC statement (.pdf)
- read Thompson's statement
- download the original DHS report, OIG-13-05 (.pdf)

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