Pilot Repeatedly Posted Sexually Explicit Photos of Flight Attendant On the Internet, Federal Agency Charges
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – United Airlines, Inc., an international airline operating in over 300 airports across five continents, violated federal law by subjecting a female flight attendant to a hostile work environment of sexual harassment over a multi-year period, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the lawsuit, a United captain frequently posted sexually explicit images of a United flight attendant to various websites, making reference to the flight attendant’s name, home airport, and sometimes referencing the airline’s tagline “Fly the Friendly Skies.” The lawsuit alleges that the posts were seen by co-workers and adversely affected the flight attendant’s working environment. United failed to prevent and correct the pilot’s behavior, even after the flight attendant made numerous complaints and provided substantial evidence to support her complaints, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division (EEOC v. United Airlines, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:18-cv-817) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit asks the court to order United to provide the flight attendant with appropriate relief, including compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any further gender-discriminatory practices. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Employers have an obligation to take steps to stop sexual harassment in the workplace when they learn it is occurring through cyber-bullying via the internet and social media,” said Philip Moss, a trial attorney in the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “When employers fail to take action, they fail their workers and enable the harassment to continue.”
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez added, “Here, United was aware of the intimate details of how its pilot was harassing its flight attendant, but took no responsibility to put a stop to it. As a result, over a period of many years, the flight attendant had to work every day in fear of humiliation if a co-worker or customer recognized her from the pilot’s postings. This is unacceptable, and the EEOC is here to fight such misconduct.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.