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Proposed bill would make assaults on airport workers a felony

Airport workers

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to propose legislation this week that aims to promote safety for airport workers by imposing stiff penalties for people who attack them.

Gov. Cuomo’s proposal would make an assault against an airport worker a class D felony with a penalty of up to seven years in prison, according to a statement from the governor’s office on Sunday.

The announcement follows an attack on an employee at Kennedy International Airport who was wearing a hijab. Robin A. Rhodes of Worcester, Massachusetts, has been charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime and other charges, for yelling at and kicking the female employee who was sitting in her office in an airport lounge on Jan. 25, according to a statement from the Queens County, New York District Attorney’s office.

According to the charges, the victim suffered substantial pain and redness in her right leg where she was kicked.

Under current New York law, on-the-job assaults against transit employees, including bus and train operators, conductors and ticket inspectors, are considered class D felonies, but airport workers are not specifically included, Gov. Cuomo in a press conference Sunday. The Transportation Worker Protection Act will explicitly include airport workers, he said.

“In New York, we will not allow individuals to be abused or violated based on their job, race or religion,” Gov. Cuomo said. “As the frequency of these attacks increase, so will our diligence. The Transportation Worker Protection Act provides additional safeguards for attacks on transportation workers and any such act will be prosecuted as a felony. New York has zero tolerance for intolerance, and we will work with the Senate and Assembly to make this law a reality.” 


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