A Transportation Security Administration agent has been fired twice after filing multiple reports of illegal activity and accusing other agents of acting in a manner that endangers public safety.
Robert MacLean was officially categorized as a whistleblower by the US Supreme Court in 2015. As a result of that categorization, the TSA was forced to reinstate MacLean after the agency has fired him for making his accusations. Once reinstated, MacLean proceeded to file additional whistleblower reports and was again fired.
Agency Claims Whistleblower Has Track Record of Misconduct
TSA has accused MacLean of improper conduct, including viewing pornography on a government-issued cell phone. The agency asked the US attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges but the office declined. It was after the request was turned down that the TSA fired MacLean for a second time. In its termination letter to MacLean, the agency accused him of conducting himself in a manner that “undermined TSA’s confidence” in him and his ability to perform his job.
The agency isn’t the only one that reports problems with MacLean. Co-workers have said he promoted conflict in the workplace and didn’t feel confident he’d be there for them in an emergency. Others have called him a racist, a stalker, a liar, a misogynist, and a conspiracy theorist.
MacLean and his lawyers claim these accusations are retaliation for whistleblowing.
In his appeal to the US Office of Special Counsel after his second firing, his lawyer stated that MacLean’s allegations are true and his whistleblower reports are legally protected.
According to MacLean’s claims against TSA, the agency failed to implement secondary barriers between cockpits and passengers on many aircraft. He also alleged that air marshals and flight crews were without proper equipment for neutralizing attacks carried out by tools that are able to make it through security, and that the agency had failed to respond in a timely manner to the rape of a female airport employee in a restroom at DC’s Reagan National Airport, and had later tried to cover up the event. MacLean’s claims also addressed other safety issues with airplanes and the inability of agents to inspect all airline meals.
MacLean’s lawyer also stated that TSA has been trying to terminate him since he was initially reinstated in his position after the Supreme Court ruling.
TSA Agent Terminated after Speaking to Media
MacLean was originally terminated in 2003 after he fought back against the cancellation of air marshals on long-distance overnight flights to save money on the cost of hotel rooms for the employees. The move came shortly after he’d received an emergency alert from DHS that described a potential “broader scale version of the September 11th plot.”
When his concerns were ignored by TSA, he spoke anonymously to the media. His actions resulted in the reinstatement of air marshals on the flights in question. But in 2006 when TSA became aware of the fact that it had been MacLean that spoke to the media he was terminated from his position.
For nine years MacLean tried to get whistleblower protection, but it wasn’t until the Supreme Court heard his case that his request was honored. As a result of the ruling, TSA had to reinstate him.
But his reinstatement was far from smooth. He had to wait months to get a new security clearance and was then scheduled to fly as an air marshal, despite being recognizable because of the publicity of the case. Later, he was placed in a far-away office location without any duties or colleagues. He had to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and there were disputes concerning how much he was owed in back pay. He also requested a transfer to work in customs or at the border or another department, but was ignored.
Posts by MacLean to a private Facebook group were shared by other members of the group and he was ultimately terminated for a second time.
According to his attorney, TSA “relentlessly and crudely defied” protections in place for whistleblowers.