Folks are reacting after a U.S. federal court ruled TSA employees are immune from being sued by passengers.
This week, a Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in a 2 to 1 decision that TSA screeners are immune from claims, finding that agents can't be sued for false arrest, abuse or assault because they don't operate in the same way as "investigative or law enforcement officers."
The ruling has some concerned it lets the TSA off the hook for bad behavior.
The agency's screenings at security checkpoints at airports across the country are a function of flying.
But in the past, the standard pat down has raised eyebrows.
In April, the Washington Post reported TSA screeners were fired after allegations of singling out “attractive” male passengers to grope at the Denver International Airport. In the first quarter of 2017, TSA logged 6,700 grievances. While that’s less than 1 percent of travelers, obviously the complaints are serious.
Push back on social media came swiftly, with former Congressman Ron Paul tweeting: "legalized groping."
From political commentator Amy Holmes, “the court decision absolving them of liability is very concerning.”
A spokesperson for the TSA said travelers can still file claims and attempt to sue the agency, but individual workers are off limits.
Any change to this decision would have to come from Congress – they are they only ones who have the power to expand the liability.
If passengers do happen to come in contact with a questionable situation with the TSA, there are things they can do:
- Report the agent to a supervisor and ask for a supervisory transportation security officer (STSO) immediately.
- Complain in writing. Send an email to the TSA directly. (tsa.gov/contact-center/form/complaints)
- Contact your elected official. Congress watches TSA activities carefully. Find your representative online at House.gov.
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