TSA fires Newark workers, says some slept on job

The Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday it fired eight officers at Newark Liberty International Airport for allegedly sleeping on the job or violating other rules.

Some of the workers were caught on videotape in December napping in a checked-baggage room in Newark's terminal B, the TSA said. Other workers violated other standard operation procedures involving checked baggage, the agency said, and more workers could be disciplined as the investigation continues.

The dismissals are at least the third flurry of disciplinary action against TSA airport screeners this month.

Seven workers in Philadelphia were fired June 15 after another worker was convicted of bribery a week earlier for charging workers to pass certification tests.

Five workers were fired and 37 more, including the security director in Fort Myers, Fla., were suspended on June 1 for failing to conduct additional random screenings for hundreds of passengers.

The inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security currently is investigating the TSA, and the latest disciplinary actions are part of that review, according to TSA.

At Newark, the TSA said the eight workers who were fired had been suspended in January from screening passengers and placed on modified duties, while the inspector general reviewed the case to ensure that the workers didn't have an excuse such as being on break.

TSA Administrator John Pistole last year created an Office of Professional Responsibility to standardize work rules and streamline the adjudication of disciplinary action of cases such as this.

In a statement, TSA said the agency "holds all of its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace."

"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," the agency said.

Representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing TSA workers, didn't respond immediately to phone and email messages for comment.

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