While most verified complaints from passengers about profiling by TSA screeners lead to retraining, in about 100 cases over October 2015-February 2018 the agency took a personnel action in response, ranging from letters of reprimand to firing, GAO has said.
GAO said that during that period, the TSA contact center, the primary point of contact for collecting, documenting, and responding to public questions, received more than 3,600 complaints about screeners. All but about 400 of them alleged civil rights or civil liberties violations based on personal characteristics including race, ethnicity, national origin, language, gender, age, and hair.
Of the more than 2,000 complaints the TSA’s multicultural branch investigated, it added, slightly above half resulted in recommended training for the screener, while the rest were either not substantiated, were referred to other offices or federal agencies, or were closed because the complainant did not provide requested information.
That branch “regularly collects and analyzes data on passenger civil rights and civil liberties and discrimination complaints and their resolution status, and shares this information with TSA executive leadership, TSA airport customer service managers, and screeners in the field, among others,” the GAO said at a House hearing.
That branch also uses that information to “develop training aids and materials on areas where they determine screeners need more training, such as multicultural awareness or screening of transgender passengers” and “has developed briefings focusing on unlawful profiling and unconscious bias which reiterated that unlawful profiling is against TSA policy, defined unconscious bias, and provided scenario-based examples.”