Michael Constantino. Pic courtesy of the NY Daily News.
Queens, New York native Michael Constantino didn’t let his lack of a right hand prevent him from a successful amateur boxing career that included an appearance in the Golden Gloves. Now he’s taking on maybe his most formidable opponent yet, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Constantino, 32, applied for a job with the TSA, passed an online exam, and cleared the background check. During his interview, he says his disability was never brought up. However, after a routine medical exam, he received an email notifying him that he had a “medical disqualification” that prevented him from properly doing the job of a security screener.
The email stated that Constantino was incapable of performing patdowns, opening zippers and snaps, recording information in a log, or opening small containers like pillboxes. Constantino, who has been one-handed since birth, claims that the TSA’s claims are absurd. “Anyone that knows me knows it’s ridiculous for them to say I can’t open luggage,” he told the New York Daily News. He claims that the TSA did not offer him the opportunity to demonstrate that he could perform the tasks that they deemed beyond his capacity. They simply assumed that a person with one hand was not suited to serve as a security screener.
Constantino is now bringing suit against the TSA. He sees this as more than a fight for his own employment. “I’m going to keep going so this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “It’s wrong what they did, and they should learn from their mistakes.”