(CN) – An airport security specialist won a round in his whistleblower suit accusing the government of threatening to suspend him for speaking out against changes in airport screening procedures that allegedly made it easier for miscreants to smuggle explosive devices onto airplanes.
A seven-year employee of the Transportation Security Administration, Stanley Miller oversees covert testing of baggage and passenger screening systems at U.S. airports. His team tests the systems by trying to pass simulated bombs and bags tainted with explosive contaminants through screening.
He filed a whistleblower action against the Department of Homeland Security after he was threatened with a 14-day suspension for stating that certain procedural changes posed a substantial danger to public safety. Details of the exact operations Miller opposed have been censored in court records due to their sensitive nature.
An administrative law judge ruled that Miller’s statements weren’t protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act, because he didn’t show a “reasonable belief” that the changes would threaten public safety. Miller based his opinion solely on his work experience, the judge added, not on any education or training with explosives.
But the Merit Systems Protection Board vacated that decision, saying the reasonableness of Miller’s belief “is based on facts known to and readily ascertainable by him.”
Miller’s statements criticizing the procedural changes were protected disclosures, the board ruled. It vacated and remanded for further proceedings.