The TSA is short for the Transportation Security Administration. The TSA is a federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security and they are in charge of security for air travel within the United States. The TSA conducts screening and checks of passengers and their luggage to ensure safety and to attempt to catch potential terrorists before they attack passengers on a flight or plant explosives in an airport.
The TSA conducts body scans and body checks of passengers, or pat-downs, that many people consider invasive. Passengers have argued through their lawyers that these images and pat-downs violate rights to privacy.
Federal lawsuits against the TSA can be filed as well as state-level lawsuits. It is also possible to sue an individual who works for the TSA outside of their capacity as a TSA employee, though it is likely that the amount of potential damages would be much lower.
It is possible to sue the TSA for a number of reasons, but most of them fall under civil rights violations and constitutional rights violations. The Federal Torts Claim Act dictates laws for tort cases and claims against the TSA fall under this law. The TSA can be sued for bodily injury, damage to luggage and lost luggage.
A common complaint against the TSA is the nature of the public screenings. Passengers have complained of being sexually assaulted, humiliated, and groped in front of others passengers. Elderly and young passengers have also complained of being the target of inappropriate screening. These kinds of cases could result in criminal charges if the pat-down is proven to be excessive or criminal in nature.
However, in some airports, these services are conducted by private companies and not the TSA, so the TSA cannot be sued for the private company’s actions.
In at least one case, a passenger sued the TSA for around $500 (the cost of his flight), alleging that he missed his flight because he was held up at security for too long.
If you have been injured by a TSA official during a screening, or if your luggage has been lost or damaged due to TSA activity, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer to find out what your options are. If the TSA is proven to have violated rights, it is possible to collect damages.
If the TSA is accusing you of a crime, you need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer. The TSA typically has federal and/or state law enforcement agencies behind it, so you want a lawyer who can assist you in defending against the charges.