Queens Disabled Man Files TSA Discrimination Suit
Newscaster: Michael Costantino says he’s fighting for the rights of the disabled. The Whitestone man who was born with only one hand is a former boxer. Used to pummeling opponents in the ring, he’s now trying to knock down a decision by the Transportation Security Administration that medically disqualified him for a security officer job at LaGuardia Airport.
Mr. Michael Costantino: I’m training at Universal Boxing Gym in Ozone Park where I work out with professional fighters every day, highly trained fighters. So I think I’m more capable than most people because I do have boxing experience. It’s the frontlines of security. I could definitely protect people.
Newscaster: Costantino has filed a formal complaint with the TSA for disability discrimination, claiming the agency violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. He says he passed the TSA’s interview process and their background check, but failed a routine physical exam. His attorney says it’s an exam that never gave him the chance to prove that he can do the job.
Attorney Jonathan Bell: Examples that they stated in their letter said that he could not open and close zippers and bags in a timely fashion. He wasn’t able to do a pat down. But the most shocking thing is that they never tested him on those skills. They just made a presumption.
Newscaster: In a statement, a TSA spokesperson says, “We do not comment on pending litigation.” TSA officials say, under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, the agency has the leeway to create its own physical qualifications and potential employees have to meet certain physical standards. Costantino says the agency’s standards, though, make for an unfair fight.
Mr. Costantino: You expect the government should be totally equal to everyone, so it definitely was hard.
Male Newscaster: Costantino and his attorney are confident the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will reverse the TSA’s decision. It’s a process that takes at least six months, so a ruling isn’t expected until sometime next year.
CeFaan Kim, NY1.