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For Travelers: Filing a Complaint

Office of Civil Rights and Liberties

Multicultural Branch

The Multicultural Branch (MB) administers Federal civil rights and civil liberties laws that prohibit discrimination in TSA’s programs or activities per TSA Management Directives.  Travelers who believe they have been unlawfully discriminated against by a TSA employee may file a civil rights and/or civil liberties complaint with MB.  MB has authority to investigate allegations of discrimination based on the following protected status: race, national origin, gender or sex, sexual orientation, parental status, or retaliation as compared to someone else under similar circumstances.  MB also has the authority to investigate complaints concerning allegations of infringement of the Constitutional rights to due process and the civil liberties of freedom of speech, religion, and association as well as search and/or seizure.

MB does not enforce disability related laws and regulations within TSA.  If you are filing a complaint based on disability please go here:  TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov

MB also does not review customer service related concerns such as rude or unprofessional behavior by TSA personnel or lost or damaged property.

In addition, MB does not enforce laws against airlines, airline employees, airport employees or accessibility for persons with disabilities on an airline or around or in the airport.  MB does not have authority over screening for inbound international travelers either. 

Airlines and airports are generally under the authority of the United States Department of Transportation and the United States Department of Justice. 

Complaints regarding international travel screening are generally under the authority of United States Customs and Border Protection.

 Filing a Complaint with TSA

If you are filing a civil rights and/or civil liberties complaint with TSA, MB will need certain information from you.  A complete complaint must provide all of the following:

  1. A signed, written  explanation of the facts that led you to believe discrimination occurred with enough detail for MB to understand what occurred;
  2. Your first and last name;
  3. Your mailing address, e-mail address (if available) and telephone number, if you are the one that the discrimination allegedly occurred to, or the third party legally allowed to file a complaint on behalf of the complainant;
  4. A basis for the complaint that includes any, or all, of the following: race, national origin, ethnicity, gender/sex, speech, religion, association, search and/or seizure, due process or any other Constitutionally protected right or liberty not listed;
  5. The location (e.g., airport), date and time of the alleged discriminatory action by TSA.

If you prefer to submit your complaint in a language other than English, TSA has the ability to translate.

TSA has developed a form to assist you filing a complaint. You are not required to use this form to file a complaint; a letter or e-mail with the same information is sufficient. However, if you file a complaint by letter or e-mail, you should include the same information that is requested on the form.

Multicultural Branch
Office of Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement
Transportation Security Administration
701 South 12th Street
Arlington, VA 20598-6006

The Complaint Process

MB will review the information that you provided in your written correspondence to determine if it is complete or whether more information is needed.  You should receive an acknowledgment that MB has received your complaint within seventy-two (72) business hours, if you provided a valid e-mail address. 

If your complaint is complete MB staff will then determine whether MB has the authority to address your concerns.  If more information is needed, MB staff will contact you and request additional information.  If MB does not have the authority to retain the matter based on the information that you provided, MB will direct you to the appropriate office or Federal agency.

If MB retains your complaint, an inquiry may be conducted.  If violations are found to have occurred, MB will order remedies, such as requiring that the location in question conduct additional training for the TSA employee or employees involved.
In many instances, MB may attempt to informally resolve your complaint by acting as an intermediary between you and TSA leadership at the location in question.  Informal resolution is voluntary for both you and TSA leadership at the location.  If an informal resolution is reached, it is reduced to writing and MB will monitor the location until the terms are completed.

Complaints are typically resolved within 180 days of receipt.

Latest revision: 19 August 2014