An airline security firm employee was sacked after he admitted taking a copy of Time magazine from a rubbish bag on a stairwell serving a transatlantic jet at Shannon airport.
Tim Marks, a former employee of ICTS Ireland Ltd, was fired in 2014 after admitting he took the $5.99 magazine from a rubbish bag destined for the dump on October 22, 2014.
Mr. Marks took the magazine from two-thirds down a rubbish bag from a just-arrived flight by ICTS’s biggest customer at Shannon, United Airlines.
Mr. Marks, who spent nine years with the firm, is suing for unfair dismissal at an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).
At a hearing in Ennis, Audrey Wilhite, station manager at Shannon for ICTS, said the value of the item was irrelevant as Mr. Marks had brought the company into disrepute.
Ms. Wilhite said it was her decision to sack Mr. Marks, stating that he would have been aware of a company memo confirming a previous incident where a worker was sacked for taking a can of Coke from an aircraft without permission.
At peak season, ICTS Ireland employs around 100 employees at Shannon.
ICTS Shannon operations manager, Pat Dunne, said Mr. Marks explained that taking the magazine without permission “was a momentary lapse of concentration on his behalf”.
Mr. Dunne said “the item was not his to take whether it was on the back steps or on the back of the aircraft.”
Ms. Wilhite said she informed United Airlines staff representatives who were managing the aircraft.
“We explained that we had an incident where an item was removed from the aircraft and we were dealing with it,” she said.“It was embarrassing saying it to them and they looked a bit shocked and they asked what was the item.”
Mrs. Wilhite said she showed them the Time magazine: “I apologized and I asked could I retain the magazine and pay them compensatory value. I was told that I could retain it and they would not seek compensatory value unless the passenger requested its return.
“Our company is a security company and any removal of any item from an aircraft or surrounding area that we are responsible for shows a serious breach in what our company does and what we are employed for in the first place.”
On the seriousness of the incident, Ms Wilhite said United Airlines “are our highest source of revenue and most important customer and that is why I would be very worried if they got the opinion that we weren’t operating with integrity and that we weren’t monitoring security in a satisfactory manner in what is a very competitive environment”.
She told the tribunal: “Anything that is on the aircraft that does not belong to us cannot be removed from the aircraft, anything at all. It creates a very negative impression for our company should anyone assume that our staff are rooting through rubbish bags to see if there are items they can take them away with them. It is completely inappropriate.”
Ms. Wilhite said she considered lower sanctions but decided to sack Mr Marks. The hearing was adjourned until April.