Airport security man sacked for reading paper
An airport security man was sacked for reading a newspaper and taking his eye off luggage at Dublin airport while working for an airline that suffered huge losses in the 9/11 attacks.
And the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that security firm ICTS UK Ltd, trading as ICTS, was correct to sack Rodney Monks for gross misconduct by reading the newspaper when he was supposed to be observing the American Airlines luggage.
After the two days of evidence, the EAT found that Mr Monks' claim for unfair dismissal failed.
ICTS provides security services for transatlantic flights at Dublin airport and the EAT ruling found that ICTS was reasonable in sacking Mr Monks particularly due to the context and nature of ICTS's business and the complaint made.
The complaint against Mr Monks was made by a manager of American Airlines who witnessed the incident.
Mr Monks was contracted to work for American Airlines as a 'baggage observer' at Dublin Airport on June 28, 2011.
The EAT report recorded that there was a complaint that one of the two agents in the baggage hall was leaning against the bin while reading a newspaper on the date. As a result, ICTS suspended the two security agents.
After a disciplinary meeting, ICTS's Operations Manager (OA) found that Mr Monks' actions constituted gross misconduct in that Mr Monks failed to perform the allocated duties to any extent which constitutes dereliction of duty and serious or wilful breach of a security procedure.
The OA told the EAT that something could have been placed in the baggage bins if Mr Monks was not observing properly as the bins are covered with a taupe but not sealed.
The OA added that Mr Monks had not observed the AA manager approaching. Mr Monks was formally dismissed for his admission "to reading a newspaper whilst on duty on the 28 June 2011, while he was supposed to be observing AA baggage".
The Station Manager at the hearing gave evidence of the strict security policy in place with American Airlines.
He explained that after baggage is checked in, it proceeds to a secure area where it has to be observed to ensure it is not tampered with. In line with the policy, two people are on observer duty; one person to stay and watch the containers and then continue with them as they go out to the aircraft and a second to wait in case there is a late bag checked in.
The Station Manager heard the appeal of the decision to dismiss Mr Monks.
Mr Monks's appeal was based on the proportionality of the sanction. The Station Manager upheld the decision to dismiss Mr Monks as his explanation was inadequate and he told the tribunal: "I couldn't take the risk of a breach of security."
The Station Manager claimed Mr Monks had received full training, admitted the offence and outlined that he was not aware that an American Airlines Manager was present at the time.
In his evidence, Mr Monks said that he was employed by ICTS for four years without any disciplinary issues. He said he could still view the bins on the day in question and that the bins could not have been infiltrated.
He disputed he had admitted in the meetings to being "engrossed" in the newspaper or admitting that his actions were a dereliction of duty. He said that it was common practice to read the newspaper in this area. He stated that there was a second newspaper there which his colleague had been reading but his colleague was disciplined in relation to unauthorised breaks.