[women-csd] Fwd: Fwd: The "Reward" for a Whistleblower
- I am only trying to help female travelers to be able to travel freely throughout the world. Many can't or want fight back but the world deserve to know those that are fighting back in order to lend their support. Please post this message.
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Subject: Fwd: The "Reward" for a Whistleblower
To: charrisceada@..., ceada@...
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 23:44:36 -0500 (EST)
---- you wrote:
> Federal/Postal Employees Outreach 'Straight Talk' List---------------------------------------------------
> The Internet Voice of Federal Injured Workers
> Please forward to everyone on the internet.
> From: EHutchi344@...
> The �Reward� for a Whistleblower
> Earl Ofari Hutchinson
> While many blacks, especially black women, have been victims of airport racial profiling,
> Customs service officials vehemently deny that the agency deliberately targets them. But
> one Customs service employee fed up with the ill-treatment of black travelers blew the
> In 1999, Cathy Harris, a 13 year veteran senior inspector at Atlanta's International
> airport, told congressional investigators, news reporters, and federal officials that
> Customs agents subject thousands of black travelers to illegal pat downs, strip searches,
> x-ray examinations, monitored bowel movements, unlawful detentions, and targeted
> monitoring by drug sniffing dogs in their search for drug traffickers. At the same time, a
> Customs service survey shows that black women travelers were the smallest group of
> international travelers and that only twenty percent of the women searched carried drugs.
> Black Customs employees who complained about the disgraceful manhandling of black
> travelers, Harris claimed, were systematically harassed, threatened with transfers,
> suspended from duty or fired. The pressure by Customs officials on the black employees to
> keep silent was so intense, she said, that several black customs employees suffered
> nervous breakdowns and filed stress claims.
> Harris' revelations ignited a brief flurry of news articles, TV features, and exposes on
> airport profiling. They prompted the Government Accounting Office to conduct an internal
> investigation of Customs and the Senate Finance Committee to hold hearings on the agency's
> operations and practices. They triggered a tidal wave of lawsuits by black travelers
> against the Customs service for harassment and a move by more than 1000 current and former
> Customs employees to file a class action discrimination suit against the agency. Yet,
> according to Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project,
> government employees who expose corruption and discrimination in government agencies have
> few legal enforcement remedies to shield them from job loss. The weakness in the laws,
> Devine insists, allows government agencies to blatantly abuse and silence employee
> But Harris was partially vindicated when Customs service officials enacted a series of
> reforms that limited the time Customs could detain travelers without their being able to
> consult an attorney or notify a family member, initiated personnel shake-ups at several
> airports, and revamped the agency's disciplinary review board to insure fairness in
> employee relations. Customs officials also admitted that they do use profiles in their
> searches but continue to insist that race is not a criteria. Harris also helped form the
> Customs Employees Against Discrimination Association (CEADA) to act as a watchdog group to
> pressure to end Customs racial profiling and sexual and racial harassment of their
> For blowing the whistle on Customs service abuses, Harris was praised by government
> employees, employee groups, government officials, and civil rights groups.. Yet the reward
> Harris got from Customs officials for her action has been a terrifying nightmare of
> retaliation and harassment. She was ordered to turn in her government issued weapon, take
> a fitness for duty exam, two drug
> urinalysis tests, a pap smear, a psychological examination, and face two administrative
> hearings. She is currently on stress leave and has filed a discrimination suit with the
> Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In November she was slapped with a �proposed
> letter for termination� by the agency. Harris, a single mother with no income and two
> college aged daughters to support, is near destitution. Her utilities and phone service
> have been cut off for non-payment. Her house is scheduled to be put up for foreclosure
> sale in January. Harris says that Customs officials have foot-dragged in settling her
> claims for back pay and workers compensation in a deliberate effort to starve her out. She
> has spent more than $15,000 in legal fees in her battle against Customs.
> The reaction from government officials to the maltreatment of Harris sharply contrasts
> with that of IRS whistleblower Jennifer Long whose public testimony before the Senate
> Finance Committee last April about IRS taxpayer shakedowns provoked a storm of public
> outrage. After testifying before the committee, the IRS threatened to fire Long. The
> indignation of government officials over the threat was so swift and strong that the IRS
> backed down and she kept her job. But Long is white and Harris is black. There has been no
> similar groundswell of anger from politicians about Harris' plight.
> Despite Harris' ordeal and her desperate need for immediate financial and legal help she
> is determined to continue the fight to protect black travelers from abuse and black
> Customs employees from discrimination and retaliation.
> She claims that despite the much touted reforms and promises by Customs officials to end
> their degrading practices, black travelers are still being pounced on for searches and
> stops at airports and those black employees that complain about racial profiling are still
> being driven out of Customs. Harris has put her life and career on the line to expose the
> horrific policy of airport racial profiling. She has suffered mightily for her action. And
> this is hardly a fitting reward for a whistleblower.
> Support Contact:
> Cathy Harris
> Box 597
> Lovejoy, Georgia 30250
> Demand Justice for Cathy Harris!
> Send Faxes, letters, emails and phone calls to:
> Lawrence Summers
> Secretary of Treasury
> 1500 Pennsylvania Ave NW
> Washington DC 20220
> phone: (202) 622-2000
> Fax (202) 622-6415
> email: opcmail@...
> Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally syndicated columnist and the director of the
> National Alliance for Positive Action.
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