TSA whistleblower says he was mocked as 'Boy Scout,' pushed out after flagging sexual harassment concerns

House investigators say bad bosses has had a lasting impact on the agency.

October 22, 2018, 6:21 PM

An unusual sexual harassment case involving the federal government will land in court at the end of this month.

In this case, the plaintiff isn’t a victim of sexual harassment – it’s a man who says he blew the whistle on misconduct at his workplace only to find himself mocked by his coworkers for being a “Boy Scout” and pushed out of his senior-level job.

Mark Livingston spent 21 years on active duty in the Marine Corps and deployed multiple times to Iraq before landing a senior intelligence job at the Transportation Security Administration. Now, he is suing the Department of Homeland Security after he says he was unfairly sidelined at TSA for standing up to bosses who bullied and harassed women.

At one point, Livingston told House investigators about one senior TSA official: “When I told him that I would not lie after he sexually harassed her, he told me that if I didn’t, him and the others couldn’t work with me.”

TSA is the federal agency whose primary purpose is to secure all U.S. airline travel and its passengers. But it became the subject of a congressional inquiry amid reports of sexual harassment of some of its female employees, and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last September released a report that depicted the agency as plagued by bad bosses.

TSA said it does not comment on cases being actively litigated.

But TSA Administrator David Pekoske, who took over the agency after the allegations of bad behavior took place, has said previously that there is now “zero tolerance for egregious or offensive behavior under my tenure.”

Livingston filed a complaint in 2016 and his case will be tried before a jury on Oct. 29. According to Livingston’s complaint, one of his run-ins was with Joseph Salvator, the deputy assistant administrator for office security operations, who Livington said harassed a woman in his presence.

When Livingston said he would tell the truth if asked, he said Salvator told him that they wouldn’t be able to work together if Livingston was going to be a “Boy Scout.” Salvator did not immediately respond to an email by ABC News requesting comment.

“He was removed from his position, demoted, and reassigned for opposing unlawful discrimination against women,” according to Livingston’s 2016 complaint.

Speaking more generally about issues within the TSA, House investigators say misconduct by bosses has had a lasting impact on the agency and “found TSA leadership inappropriately used involuntary directed reassignments to retaliate against disfavored employees and whistleblowers, among other tactics.”

“What that meant to me was everybody else was covering for everybody else,” Livingston told House investigators. “They all circled the wagon. And I didn’t want to be a part of it … They were mostly all dirty.”

The case involving Livingston and the Department of Homeland Security will be tried before the Eastern District Court of Virginia on Oct. 29.

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