Saturday, July 30, 2011
One-arm, nine years as TSA employee: I do my job just fine!
BY Rich Schapiro
Queens man Michael Constantino filed an internal discrimination complaint against the TSA two weeks ago after agency doctors said he was too crippled to take a job as a screener.
An ace one-armed airport screener in Boston says he's puzzled the feds barred a one-handed Queens man from working the same job.
Poshefko, a security training instructor, has worked for the Transportation Security Administration for nine years. He praised the agency's treatment of the disabled and called the case of Michael Costantino "unusual."
"I've been treated very, very well," Poshefko told the Daily News yesterday. "I would say that the denial of this man is unusual.
"I've had nothing but a positive experience from my airport - from the top down. It's the best life experience that I have had."
The News confirmed TSA has one-armed screeners working at Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C. and at Orlando International Airport. The agency said some one-armed workers were hired before employment standards were changed.
Costantino, a former amateur boxer who was born without a right hand, was disqualified earlier this year from working as an airport screener.
The TSA determined the plucky pugilist - who once earned "Fight of the Night" honors at the Golden Gloves - was unfit to search bags, open and close zippers, and pat down passengers.
Costantino claims he was knocked out in his bid for a TSA gig without being asked to perform any of those tasks. He said Poshefko's example proves what he's believed all along.
"It shows you that people with a disability are capable of doing the job, and I wasn't given the chance," said Costantino, who is suing the TSA.
TSA "had the option to test him to determine if he can perform the job, or to assume he could not because of his disability," said his lawyer, Jonathan Bell. "Unfortunately, they chose the latter."
TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said medical guidelines requires workers "to use both hands to perform screening functions.
"Since TSA's inception, we are aware that a few individuals have been hired who do not meet those specific standards," she added. "As the agency has matured, we have put processes in place to more actively enforce our hiring standards."