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Air Marshals aren’t biased; they just don’t communicate

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Office Communication,Workplace Communication

When CNN highlights alleged workplace discrimination, you can bet a federal investigation will follow. So when the cable network ran a report in 2010 alleging pervasive bias in the Federal Air Marshal’s Service (FAMS), authorities braced for the worst.

The good news: The resulting government investigation didn’t uncover widespread discrimination.

The bad news: Investigators found that many FAMS employees believe they have been discriminated against.

The investigation, which focused on operations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and several other airports nationwide, grew from a whistle-blower’s complaint that management insulted ­workers with a whiteboard designed to look like the question board on the “Jeopardy!” game show. Categories allegedly were derogatory nicknames for women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians and veterans.

Investigators could not document widespread discrimination, but did uncover attitudes among rank-and-file personnel that they “feel discriminated against, fear retaliation, and believe there is much favoritism.”

A FAMS official acknowledged that poor communication might have contributed to worker perceptions of bias.

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