United Airlines Inc., a Chicago-headquartered international airline operating in over 300 airports across five continents, has agreed to pay $321,000, plus attorney’s fees, to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed in Texas by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The federal agency says its lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, 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 evidence 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.
The EEOC filed suit (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 consent decree resolving this case, approved by U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez, requires the company to pay monetary damages of $321,000, plus attorney’s fees for the flight attendant and to provide notice to company employees of their protections under Title VII. The decree 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.
The flight attendant who intervened in the EEOC’s federal lawsuit was individually represented by attorney Colin Walsh of the Austin, Texas office of Wiley Walsh, P.C.
The San Antonio Field Office is part of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, which is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.
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