United Airlines Settles Sexual Harassment Claim Over Explicit Internet Posts by Captain

United Airlines has agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit over a captain who continued to post explicit images of a flight attendant online without her consent even after the attendant complained.

The airline will pay $321,000, plus attorney’s fees, under a court-approved consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that, over the course of many years, a United captain frequently posted explicit images of a flight attendant to multiple websites, without her consent, making reference to her name, home airport, and the airline’s tagline “Fly the Friendly Skies.” The EEOC’s suit asserted that the images were seen by co-workers of the flight attendant, as well as untold numbers of potential passengers, causing her humiliation and embarrassment and adversely affecting her work environment.

The EEOC maintained that United failed to prevent and correct the pilot’s behavior, even after the flight attendant made numerous complaints and provided substantial eviĀ­dence to the airline of the pilot’s conduct. The EEOC asserted that the pilot was allowed to retire with benefits despite initiation of a criminal prosecution by the U.S. attorney’s office under federal internet stalking laws.

Such alleged inaction when an employer is aware of sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including harassĀ­ment that creates a hostile environment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree resolving this case, approved by U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez, further requires the airline to revise its sexual harassment policies explicitly to include harassing conduct perpetrated through the internet or social media and affecting the work environment, whether on or off duty.

Source: EEOC