If he can win Golden Gloves boxing matches with one hand, 32-year-old Michael Constantino thinks he should have no problem working as a screener for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the airport. Unfortunately, the TSA didn't agree, and rejected him because of his "medical disqualification."
"Anyone that knows me knows it's ridiculous for them to say I can't open luggage," Constantino, a Whitestone, New York resident, told the Daily News. "I work out with former world champions. Opening luggage would be pretty easy for me."
But those in charge of hiring with the TSA didn't even give him a chance to show what he could do with the one hand he was born with. After he'd passed an online exam, a background check and an interview with two TSA officials that Constantino says went very well, it was what he believed to be a routine medical exam that put him on the ropes.
Shortly after the medical exam, he received an email from the agency saying he wouldn't be able to conduct pat-down searches properly with his palms or the backs of his hands. They also said that he would be unable to open luggage or use his hands to search through it for prohibited items, and couldn't open small containers.
They did say, however, that he might be eligible for other positions within the agency, or with the federal government.
Constantino contends that TSA officials just made an assumption that he couldn't do the work, without seeing him in action, and therefore, without any evidence to support their assumption. He believes he was unfairly discriminated against, and has filed a formal complaint with the TSA. Now it's up to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to reverse the decision, and perhaps even order the agency to pay for lost wages.
Constantino says that he was working as a deli manager, but was laid off, and thought TSA work would be a good fit when he applied. He's hoping his case will help others with disabilities who come across prejudices.
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