The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines claiming the airline failed to discipline a pilot accused of sexual harassment and subjected a female flight attendant to work in a hostile environment for several years. United Airlines has denied these claims.
According to the lawsuit, the EEOC alleges a United Airlines pilot “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,” a press release said.
The EEOC said the flight attendant made numerous complaints and provided evidence of the harassment, but United “failed to prevent and correct the pilot’s behavior.”
“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.” EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez said.
“We have reviewed the allegations in the complaint and disagree with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s description of the situation.”
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, cited Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits 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.”
United Airlines said in a statement to Fox News that the carrier denies the allegations by the EEOC.
“We have reviewed the allegations in the complaint and disagree with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s description of the situation. United does not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace and will vigorously defend against this case.”
The lawsuit is seeking “appropriate relief” including compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction preventing the company from gender-based harassment. The EEOC is also asking for United Airlines to institute a policy to prevent sexual harassment among employees.