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Ex-Queens Boxer, Born Without Right Hand, Set To Go Toe To Toe With TSA

Michael Costantino: Agency Assumed I Couldn't Do The Job Without Testing Me
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One-armed TSA

Michael Costantino wants the TSA to know he can perform the tasks required of him, even though he was born without a right hand. (Photo: CBS 2)

Tony Aiello thumbnail Tony Aiello
Tony Aiello serves as a CBS 2 general assignment reporter. After...
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A former boxer says he’s been sucker-punched by the Transportation Security Administration.

He was born with one hand, which didn’t stop him from fighting in the Golden Gloves, but the TSA says he’s not qualified for a job as a security screener.

Now he’s filing a discrimination complaint.

“I was pretty depressed, but it’s the government. I was like, what am I going to do?” Michael Costantino told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

The 32-year-old Queens resident said he didn’t see it coming. He applied for work as a TSA security officer, passed the background check, aced the online exam and finished the interview process.

Then the TSA sent him a letter — rejecting his application — because Costantino was born missing his right hand.

“I know I’m more than capable of doing the job, and I passed everything that was required of me,” Costantino told 1010 WINS. “They stated in a letter that I couldn’t do certain tasks that I do in everyday life.”

His disability didn’t stop him from success as an amateur boxer, but the TSA says without two hands he can’t effectively examine luggage or pat-down passengers.

Costantino said the TSA is making a huge assumption.

“Whatever was stated in the medical report didn’t have anything to do with the testing, it was never part of the test for the job,” Costantino told 1010 WINS. “They basically just assumed, because I was born without a right hand, that I would not be able to perform certain tasks.

“They never asked me to open any luggage, lockets, zippers … it was never done during the job interview process.”

The TSA didn’t ask, but Aiello did. Costantino had no trouble opening a zipper, undoing a Ziploc or opening child-proof pill bottles.

When asked if that kind of test should be the TSA’s standard, Costantino said, “Yes, I agree with that.”

Lawyer Jonathan Bell has filed a complaint with the TSA and appealed his case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“That’s why we’re here today. They did absolutely nothing to test whether or not he can perform the essential functions of the job,” Bell said.

The agency said it’s committed to hiring the disabled, but “mission-critical occupations include strict physical and medical requirements” that Costantino just doesn’t meet.

Costantino said he learned one thing as a boxer — stand your ground, keep on going and don’t back down.

So, he’s ready to go toe to toe with the TSA.

The TSA suggested Costantino might still qualify for other positions within the agency or other federal jobs.

Do you think the TSA was correct in its ruling? Let us know below…

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