Woman fired for refusing to fly because of terror alert

By M.R. KROPKO, Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - A woman was fired from a wallpaper design
company for refusing to fly to England on a business trip because of increased terrorism concerns.
Susan Lenahan, a designer, was fired last Tuesday, the same day she was to fly to London with four other employees of Imperial Home Decor Group. Lenahan, 32, had worked for the company since 1992.
She said Monday on CBS' "The Early Show" that she was worried about America's increased terrorism alert and heightened security concerns at Heathrow Airport. The company agreed to change the destination to Manchester, but that didn't ease her worries.
More than a week ago, the federal government raised the alert to orange, the second-highest level, because of intelligence information indicating that al-Qaida was planning attacks on the United States.
The security crackdown at airports and in central London came after police warnings that al-Qaida might try to attack the city during a Muslim festival.
"When the BBC Web site indicated additional troops and armored tanks were called in at Heathrow, even though our flight was changed to Manchester I pretty much decided I wasn't going to go," Lenahan said.
She was on a business trip to Europe on Sept. 11, 2001, and for several days did not know when she would be able to return after the terrorist attacks in the United States.
The experience came back to her Tuesday.
"I really felt my safety was at risk," she said.
She expressed her concerns but said she was told by her
supervisor there was no reason to further change the travel plan.
IHDG spokeswoman Theresa Andrikanich acknowledged that Lenahan was fired for refusing to travel to England.
She said Lenahan "was a valued employee and this was not a
decision the company wanted to make."
Andrikanich said the other employees made the trip without
incident and that the company had found no unusual travel
advisories for the United Kingdom.
"Our employees realize that international travel is a part of our business and is to be performed," she said.
State Department spokesman Stuart Pratt confirmed there was no warning Tuesday to restrict travel to the United Kingdom.
Andrikanich said the company is concerned about the security of its employees.
"We would not have sent our team over there if we felt we were putting them in harm's way," she said.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)