Canadian Airport Security Guard Who Prevented HIV/AIDS Support Group From Boarding Plane Resigns
A security guard employed by Garda World Security resigned on Thursday after allegedly saying members of an HIV/AIDS support group posed a health risk to other passengers at Prince George Airport in Prince George, Canada, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Atkinson, Globe and Mail, 4/11).
The members and employees of the group Positive Living North were flying on the airline WestJet to a conference in Vancouver, Canada, on March 28. According to a spokesperson for the group, the flight was delayed for an hour because the guard expressed health concerns about the group flying and suggested the airport lounge and plane would need to be "wiped down" after the flight.
Catherine Baylis, a Positive Living director, said airport staff first asked the head of the group whether any members had been drinking alcohol before the morning flight. Then staff informed the members that arrangements were being made to seat the group together, even though the members already were sitting together. The group also was told there were mechanical difficulties. However, Baylis was later told that the guard had suggested the lounge and plane be cleaned. When the WestJet pilot became aware of the situation, he overruled the guard and the group boarded the plane (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/10).
Joe Gavaghan, a spokesperson for Garda, said the guard resigned Thursday after a company investigation found his actions to be inappropriate. "We determined that the employee's actions, while they were well-intentioned, were inappropriate," Gavaghan said, adding that the employee believed there was "some danger, some risk" in allowing the Positive Living members to board the plane. "We believe he was being sincere. It was not his intention to cause humiliation and embarrassment," Gavaghan added.
Carmine Nutter, a director at Positive Living, said she learned of the resignation Thursday afternoon while finalizing plans with Garda representatives to present sensitivity training on HIV/AIDS to the 50 remaining security guards at the airport. Nutter said the resignation was a "surprise" that the group did not request, adding that members of the group had been treated "very professionally by other Garda staff."
Nutter said the group hopes to hold the sensitivity training in May but that details have not been finalized. She added that the incident "shouldn't have happened in the first place, but it is an opportunity for public education." Members of Positive Living have not decided whether they will file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Nutter said (Globe and Mail, 4/11).