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PLP: Scott’s airport firing was political

Speaking out: from left, PLP chairman Maynard Dill, shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott, acting Opposition leader David Burt and MP Walter Roban (Photograph by Adam Zacharias)

Shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott lost his aviation job because of his stance against the airport redevelopment, the Progressive Labour Party has claimed.

At a press conference in Alaska Hall yesterday, Mr Scott said he had filed for wrongful dismissal in the Supreme Court against JetBlue Airways, as well as lodging a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, after being fired from his supervisor role in April.

Pending an investigation into his conduct, Mr Scott was initially suspended in March.

When informed of his dismissal, he said that a human resources manager told him that the action resulted from a suspicious “charitable donation” of tickets he made on behalf of the airline in 2015.

Mr Scott’s termination letter was leaked to ZBM News last month, outlining four reasons for his removal.

These were: “Lying or providing false statements during an investigation; violation of safety and/or work rules; conduct detrimental to JetBlue’s best interests; and incompetence and/or misconduct, including professional misconduct.”

When asked about the charges by The Royal Gazette, Mr Scott said it was unclear how they related to the sole explanation he was given for his sacking.

“If the reason for my dismissal was over the donation of tickets, how do those reasons factor into that?” he asked.

Acting Opposition leader David Burt said that the true reason for his party colleague’s sacking was because of pressure from Aecon, the Canadian firm that is set to redevelop L.F. Wade International Airport, because of its displeasure over his public denouncement of the government-approved project.

In response, Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, said last night that Aecon’s focus was on “the development of a world-class airport for Bermuda”.

Mr Nackan added: “This particular issue is strictly between JetBlue and Mr Scott.”

However, Mr Burt said that “the fact that Mr Scott was targeted at his place of work is a clear violation of his constitutional and human rights”.

Mr Burt described the situation as “absolutely shocking” and “quite shameful”.

Mr Scott alleged that six months ago, a senior representative from JetBlue’s government affairs team had revealed to him the political machinations at play.

“He informed me that the company was receiving pressure from Aecon as a result of my parliamentary and town hall speeches against the airport redevelopment,” Mr Scott said.

The MP, who said it had been “a dream come true” when he joined JetBlue in 2006, claimed that he had paid “the ultimate sacrifice” with his career and vowed not to let his fellow countrymen suffer the same fate.

“I’m standing here today and not backing down because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” he said. “That’s most important to me.”

Mr Scott added that he had applied for other jobs within the aviation industry, but had not secured a new position, saying that “opportunities are limited”.

He declined to expand on the allegations against him.

“With this being in front of the court, I need to be mindful,” Mr Scott said. “All the details are in the court documents, and right now I would be remiss to give out such details.”

Mr Burt added: “The PLP unreservedly condemns this unjust targeting of Mr Scott, and we will continue to stand by him as he seeks full legal redress.”

A spokesman for JetBlue said that the company did not comment on employment matters.