Airport worker says he was reprimanded for enforcing rules

Airport worker says he was reprimanded for enforcing rules

Posted: Updated: July 10, 2013 06:11 PM
ATLANTA -

A worker at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport says his job has been threatened because he tried to enforce passenger rules equally. The worker, Vernon Freeman, said he had an encounter with a traveler who turned out to be the deputy general manager at the airport.

Freeman, a customer service worker, said he approached a passenger allegedly violating a rule in the federal customs section.

"When I approached him, he had his phone up… like taking a picture, so I told him the rules, from that point on, you're not allowed to take pictures," said Freeman. "He opened his carryon bag and said, ‘Let me show you who I am.'"

The passenger turned out to be Balram Bheodari, a deputy manager at the airport.

"Some chiefs told me that rules go for everybody," said Freeman. "If you're an employee, traveling on business, if you're not working, rules state for everybody, no pictures taking, no open bags,  especially no showing badges. "

Freeman says his superiors at the airport contracting company TBI ordered him to apologize to the top Atlanta official. Atlanta City Councilmembers with the transportation panel questioned the airport's general manager, Louis Miller, about this encounter.

"I'm going to ask you to look into this because I don't think the person who was doing their job ought to be reprimanded for doing their job," said City Councilmember Michael Bond.

A spokesperson for the airport said that Freeman was not professional during the encounter. He said the deputy general manager asked him to see the see stating the rule he'd violated. He said that Freeman joked, patted on his chest and said "I'm the sign, this is what the rule is."

Miller and other airport officials are set to meet with human resources officials to go over the matter on Thursday.

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