A security guard at Greater Rochester International Airport, NY was dismissed last week for gross misconduct. The female officer drafted in from a third party security detail handed a passenger a note that read “You ugly!!!”
The incident in June of this year took place at a security checkpoint within Monroe County’s international airport. According to Neal Strassner, he was handed a handwritten note which he was told to open by the female security officer subcontracted by TSA.
Footage from the airport’s security camera shows the incident, in which the unnamed security guard hands Mr. Strassner a note. Strassner looks confused while the official turns to one of her colleagues and laughs.
Writes the Daily Mail, Strassner said,
“I got handed a note, I didn’t really think too much of it. I just kept going. I had 10 minutes to get to my gate. That’s what I was focused on and I kept going, the woman called back to me are you going to open that? Are you going to look or something like that?”
Strassner was understandably nonplussed when he opened the note to reveal the message. He later reported the incident to a security supervisor at the airport. Although Strassner did not admit to his feeling insulted by the note, he “worried others might be offended if they received the same note.”
“I’m assuming it was meant to be a joke,” Strassner added. “I don’t think she was maliciously trying to insult people, but you really don’t know if somebody was in that mindset, and they received that piece of paper. It would throw them back to a dark mental place.”
According to OMAT, Strassner obtained the video through a Freedom of Information request. His wait for the video clip to be released was unduly lengthy, but his formal complaint since filed was swiftly dealt with.
Although the woman was not employed by the TSA, the onus falls upon the agency to take responsibility for the personnel it hires. The female security officer in Mr. Strassner’s case was subcontracted from VMD Corp, a Virginia-based security company.
The Transportation Security Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It has authority over the security of the traveling public in the United States.
To say the agency has a poor reputation in respect of its customer care is an understatement. Numerous TSA employees have been accused of harassment and inappropriate behavior since the agency’s conception in 2001.
In 2011, a group of TSA workers were sacked after bosses learned that the officers were routinely skipping checks for explosives. In 2012, several women complained about being “singled out” for full-body screening. One of the women, according to Wired, said she was sent through the screener three times after being told she had a “cute” body. In 2013 a group of TSA workers were sacked for engaging in illegal gambling.
In 2014 a former TSA employee was quoted by Legalinsurrection as saying, “I.O. [Image Operator] room duty quickly devolved into an unofficial break.
“Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display. Piercings of every kind were visible. Women who’d had mastectomies were easy to discern—their chests showed up on our screens as dull, pixelated regions.
“All the old, crass stereotypes about race and genitalia size thrived on our secure government radio channels.”
TSA confirmed this month the termination of the employment of the female member of staff. A TSA spokeswoman told the Express regarding the incident,
“TSA holds contractors to the highest ethical standards and has zero-tolerance for this type of behavior. This instance, which involved a contract employee, was investigated immediately upon receiving the complaint by the traveler. The employee has since been terminated by the contractor.”