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TSA agents fired for sleeping on the job

Published time: June 28, 2012 17:42
Edited time: June 28, 2012 21:45
A TSA employee (AFP Photo / Joe Raedle)

A TSA employee (AFP Photo / Joe Raedle)

Employees caught allegedly sleeping on the job are among the eight Transportation Security Administration agents fired this week from their posts at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The TSA says that eight airport screeners in all were relieved of their job on Wednesday over allegations that include napping on the clock and failing to follow the federal guidelines they are supposed to abide by while monitoring what luggage goes onto the planes at the massive airport outside of New York City. The TSA has declined to reveal how many employees were terminated solely for sleeping on the job.

The eight employees removed from the TSA this week all worked at the bag room at Newark’s Terminal B and will be barred from future employment with the agency pending an appeals process, the Star-Ledger report. The union that represents the screeners says that all employees in question will attempt to be reinstated as an investigation into their actions continues.

“An attorney will sit down with each and every one of them,” the Association of Federal Government Employees ‘ Mecca Scott tells the paper.

As that appeals process begins, however, the TSA is standing by their decision and says this week that the alleged behavior of the employees in question will not be tolerated.

“TSA holds all of its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace,” spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says in a statement issued on Wednesday. “Accountability is an important aspect of our work and TSA takes prompt and appropriate action with any employee who does not follow our procedures and engages in misconduct. The decision to take disciplinary action, including the proposed immediate removal of eight individuals from the TSA reaffirms our strong commitment to ensure the safety of the traveling public and to hold all our employees to the highest standards of conduct and accountability.”

This week's decision comes four months after the New York Post reported that eight TSA agents at Newark were being disciplined for allegations that included sleeping on the job. 

Siding with the TSA’s decision is US Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who also sits as vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. In a statement released from his office this week, the lawmaker says that the "TSA is taking tough but necessary corrective action to fix a disturbing pattern of misconduct that threatens security at Newark Airport.”

One of the four planes directly involved in the terrorist attacks from September 11, 2001 departed from Newark. United Airlines Flight 93 took off from Newark on the morning of 9/11 before eventually crashing in a field in rural Pennsylvania.

Nearby at New York’s JFK Airport, hundreds of passengers were delayed for upwards of two hours over the weekend for machinery malfunction at one of the TSA’s checkpoints. Sources at JFK have since reported that a TSA screener had forgotten to plug in a metal detector while checking people at the airport’s Terminal 7.

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