TSA to ax worker who left note in bag with sex toy

AP News
Posted: Oct 28, 2011 3:23 PM
TSA to ax worker who left note in bag with sex toy

A baggage screener who left a note saying "Get your freak on girl" inside a woman's suitcase that contained a sex toy will be fired, the federal Transportation Security Administration said Friday.

"TSA views the handwritten note to be highly inappropriate and unprofessional and apologizes for this unfortunate incident," spokesman Kawika Riley said in an emailed statement.

The Newark Liberty International Airport employee was disciplined and removed from baggage screening duties, Riley said. The TSA intends to fire the worker after the individual is given a chance to appeal, she said. The agency, citing privacy laws, didn't identify the worker.

The note came to light after passenger Jill Filipovic posted a photo of it Monday on her Twitter account.

Filipovic, a New York lawyer and feminist blogger, flew from Newark to Dublin over the weekend. When she opened her checked suitcase, she found a printed advisory that the TSA had opened and inspected her luggage. The additional note was handwritten on the side of the official paper.

Her initial interpretation: "Total violation of privacy, wildly inappropriate and clearly not ok, but I also just died laughing in my hotel room."

The agency, which is frequently criticized by travelers for its baggage searches and full-body scans, acted quickly once it learned what happened and apologized personally to the passenger, the TSA spokesman said.

Filipovic, who didn't respond to an email Friday from The Associated Press, later wrote on her blog, Feministe, about the impact: "Lesson learned: Don't tweet anything you don't want to appear on The View," a reference to the television talk show that was one of many places her story was told.

By Wednesday, when she had learned the TSA agent had been suspended, she wrote that she feared she would always be known for the tale and that she wanted the by-then viral story to fade away. She also didn't want the worker to be fired as a scapegoat.

"The problem with the note," she wrote, "is that it's representative of the bigger privacy intrusions that the U.S. government, through the TSA and other sources, levels every day."