Summer is the time of destination weddings and family vacations in far-flung locations—but before you can get where you're going, you may have to pass through a TSA checkpoint at the airport. That can turn into a harrowing experience for some and outright awful for others. If you're planning a flight anywhere soon, this is what you should know about the potential for sexual or physical assault by Transportation Security Administration agents.
Physical and sexual assaults seem frighteningly widespread.
TSA agents are tasked with making sure that airline passengers aren't concealing weapons that would allow them to take over the plane or explosives that could bring it down somewhere on their bodies or carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, some agents step beyond the boundaries of their profession and common sense and use their authority to harass or intimidate flyers. Things can even turn violent.
For example, a disabled teenager who became disoriented and confused during the TSA inspection was thrown to the ground, bloodied, and then arrested. All charges were later dropped.
Other horror stories abound:
- A TSA agent told a 22-year-old woman that she had to be searched in a restroom and then sexually assaulted her.
- An elderly woman was told to pull down her clothing in full view of other people and reveal her colostomy bag.
- A woman's breasts were publicly exposed and agents joked and laughed about it.
- One TSA agent purposefully groped the genitals of attractive male passengers.
Despite widespread reports of various forms of sexual and physical violence by TSA agents over several years, the problem seems to continue. Both men and women are clearly at risk, and age and disability won't necessarily protect you.
It could get worse if you complain.
Abuses are widespread and people also report that some TSA agents resort to various forms of intimidation, harassment, and retaliation if people complain about their treatment by TSA agents. One man who asked to file a complaint about the way he was treated by TSA agents found himself under arrest after a TSA agent retaliated by claiming that he made a terroristic threat.
You should consider speaking to an attorney about a civil suit.
If you've been inappropriately touched or treated violently by a TSA agent, it is possible to file a civil lawsuit for battery, which is any type of offensive or harmful physical contact. You can also file a lawsuit for the intentional infliction of emotional distress if you were publicly humiliated, shamed, or subjected to retaliation or harassment by TSA agents.
It's important to talk to an attorney early because TSA agents are federal employees. You may have a strict time limit of only 60 days to file your suit. Your attorney will also probably need to file an administrative complaint as well. For more information, speak to professionals like Randall A. Wolff & Associates, Ltd.