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Ex-TSA Employee: I Was Fired Because I'm a Witch

Carole A. Smith claims religious discrimination got her canned
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2011 12:20 PM CDT

Carole A. Smith ranked among the top 10% of workers when it came to catching weapons on the X-ray machine at New York's Albany International Airport. So why did the TSA fire her? She says it was over her religious beliefs: Smith is a practicing Wiccan, or, as she calls it, a witch, and one of her co-workers said she was afraid of Smith because Smith once cast a spell on her car. But "that's not what Wicca is," Smith explains to MSNBC. "We don't cast spells." And "if I had that kind of power, I wouldn't be working for TSA. I would go buy lottery tickets and put a spell on the balls."

The assistant director investigating co-worker Mary Bagnoli's claim knew there was no real threat of violence, but he suggested to Smith that she enter formal mediation with Bagnoli and "explain my religion to her," Smith says. She refused: "I mean, would I have to go down and sit with her if I was Jewish?" Smith was later fired after an apparent campaign to pile on disciplinary actions; the reasons for her termination seem to be bogus—see MSNBC's extensive report for more details. Bagnoli had once been Smith's training mentor, and the two women never got along; Smith had complained about receiving verbal harassment from Bagnoli and other co-workers, much of it related to her religion. She had also complained about lax airport security. After her termination, Smith filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, but a judge ruled against her; she will appeal. (More TSA stories.)

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