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Jackson v. Transportation Security Administration

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

December 23, 2019



          Benita Y. Pearson United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is the Complaint of pro se Plaintiff Chauntel Jackson against the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”). ECF No. 1. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges she was terminated from her employment with TSA as a result of racial discrimination. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief.

         For the reasons that follow, this case is dismissed.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff was hired to work for TSA in March 2013. ECF No. 1-1 at PageID #: 32 [Sealed]. She was assigned to the position of Travel Document Checker. Beginning in April 2015, Plaintiff committed a series of infractions that led to her dismissal.

         On April 9, 2015, Plaintiff's supervisor asked her to help locate a toothbrush and lip balm that were placed in the lost and found on February 5, 2015. ECF No. 1-1 at PageID #: 35. Plaintiff contends she did not volunteer for this collateral duty. She indicated she was not sure if she threw the items away after thirty days or if they were misplaced in the store room but her supervisor “was on a quest to find out what happened to this toothbrush and lip balm.” Id. She states she and others with access to the store room were asked to write a statement concerning these two items. Plaintiff then composed a letter to her supervisor resigning from collateral duties. Id.

         On April 10, 2015, Plaintiff allowed a female passenger to enter the security checkpoint area without a valid boarding pass in her own name. Id. at PageID #: 33. The passenger presented her husband's boarding pass to Plaintiff. Plaintiff did not adequately check the name on the boarding pass with the name on the identification and allowed her to pass through. The passenger's husband then arrived at the checkpoint a few minutes later and informed Plaintiff that his wife possessed his boarding pass and he had hers. Plaintiff initially told her superiors that she had discovered the error but her superiors later learned that the husband had alerted her to the mistake. The supervisor issued a Letter of Guidance and Direction to Plaintiff, explaining that the letter was not a disciplinary action and would not be placed in her personnel file. Id. at PageID #: 33, 76. Instead, he would keep a copy of the letter for five years in the event that it was needed for later disciplinary actions to show that she had been notified of the violation. He also cautioned her against a lack of candor, particularly in security situations. Id. at PageID #: 77.

         Another incident occurred on June 15, 2015 in which Plaintiff allowed an individual to pass through the security checkpoint without properly confirming that the name on the boarding pass matched the name on the identification. Id. at PageID #: 31, 38, 76, 78. On this occasion she received a Letter of Reprimand, informing her that further misconduct could lead to more severe discipline, including termination from federal employment. Id. at PageID #: 38.

         On September 6, 2015, Plaintiff spoke rudely to her supervisor. She indicates that her supervisor had been treating her disrespectfully for some time and had been particularly disrespectful to her in the briefing. She contends no one else intervened so she confronted the supervisor afterward by waving her finger and saying, “You know you was wrong for that briefing you gave.” Id. at PageID#: 74. On October 8, 2015, she received a Letter of Counseling for this infraction informing her that her behavior was unacceptable and that she was required to act in a professional manner and treat others with dignity and respect. Id. at PageID#: 76.

         A similar incident occurred with a passenger on October 11, 2015, just three days after receiving the Letter of Counseling. Plaintiff told a female passenger to “put her listening ears on.” Id. at PageID#: 74. The passenger responded that Plaintiff did not need to talk to her that way and Plaintiff apologized. The passenger complained to Plaintiff's superiors. Id.

         On October 22, 2015, Plaintiff allowed a former airport employee to gain access to a secure area of the airport with a deactivated employee badge. Id. at PageID #: 37, 71, 78. The badge was placed on the badge reader which indicated the badge was invalid. Plaintiff did not pay attention to the indication and admitted the individual to the secure area. When confronted with the error, Plaintiff said she initially saw green when she scanned the badge and then turned so she did not see the negative indication on the reader. Id. at PageID #: 72. She told her supervisors that she had not been trained on how to use the scanner and did not know how it would react if the badge was disabled. Her supervisor determined she was trained on the scanner in 2013 and cited her lack of candor as well. Id. at PageID #: 72-78.

         Plaintiff states that she was taken off of her regular checkpoint duties and assigned to the “exit” for two months. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 3. She indicates this assignment made her feel isolated.

         Because the disabled badge incident was Plaintiff's third security infraction in twelve months, TSA decided to remove her from her position as a TSA Officer and terminate her employment with the federal government on January 6, 2016. ECF No. 1-1 at PageID #: 71. Plaintiff appealed that decision to the Homeland Security Appellate Board. She alleges the Appellate Board reversed her termination and reinstated her to her employment. ECF No. 1 at PageID#: 2. She returned to work on April 14, 2016. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 2. She states she resigned on April 20, 2016 because “the employee-employer relationship had been broken and because [she] had lost everything [she] owned because of TSA's actions against [her].” ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 2-3.

         Plaintiff contends TSA treated her differently than it treated a Caucasian male who had failed to follow standard operating procedure at a security checkpoint. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 3. She indicates Alin Deak had two infractions at the screening checkpoint. First, on November 8, 2015, he allowed a passenger to gain access to a flight from Cleveland to Los Angeles using a boarding pass with an incorrect date. Deak was removed from his screening duties until he was retrained. ECF No. 1-1 at PageID #:41-48. Second, on December 4, 2015, Deak subjected a passenger to a standard screening when standard operating procedure required a more thorough security screening to be used. A supervisor noticed the mistake and screened the passenger more thoroughly before clearing him to enter the secure area. At the second offense, Deak expressed remorse for his mistake and presented an action plan to ensure such a breach would not occur in the future. Id. at PageID #: 42. He received a Letter of Reprimand in lieu of a three-day suspension. A Performance Improvement Plan was implemented for Deak on January 22, 2016. Id. at PageID #: 45. The Plan states that his performance has been unsatisfactory and he was placed in a probationary period for ninety days. He was told that it was expected that he would have no negative performance events during this ...

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