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United Airlines Inc. will pay $321,000 plus attorneys fees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that charged a United captain sexually harassed a flight attendant for many years, the agency said Friday.
The EEOC said the captain frequently posted explicit images of the flight attendant to multiple websites without her consent, referring to her name, home airport and the airlines’ tagline, “Fly the Friendly Skies.”
It said also the images were seen by her co-workers as well as “untold numbers” of potential passengers, causing her humiliation and embarrassment and adversely affecting her work environment.
The EEOC said the Chicago-based airline failed to prevent and correct the pilot’s behavior although the flight attendant had made numerous complaints and provided substantial evidence in the matter.
The EEOC said the pilot was allowed to retire with benefits despite the initiation of a criminal prosecution by the U.S. attorneys office under federal internet stalking laws.
According to a 2018 news report, after the pilot confessed and pleaded guilty and accepted a 41-month prison sentence, United placed him on long-term disability.
The agency, which filed its lawsuit in the case in 2018, had charged the airline with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Under the consent decree resolving the case, in addition to paying the flight attendant $321,000 and attorney’s fees, United must revise its sexual harassment policies to explicitly include harassment conduct perpetrated through the internet or social media, whether on or off duty, that affects the work environment,
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Dallas District, said in the statement, “This case highlights the issues of employer accountability for harassment in the modern workplace.
“Employee workdays and jobsites are no longer defined by timecards and the walls of a building, but by the breadth of a digital day and the reach of electronic communications.
“The policy United has agreed to implement can perhaps serve to provide ideas for other companies adapting to the increased risks posed by employee misuse of technology.”
United Airlines said in a statement, “The pilot’s actions were reprehensible, and he is no longer a United employee. We have a zero-tolerance policy for any type of harassment in the workplace and expect our employees to treat each other with dignity and respect.
“We strongly disagree with the EEOC’s allegations and will continue to reinforce the procedures and training we have in place to protect our employees from sexual harassment.”
The EEOC said Wednesday that Uber Technologies Inc. will establish a $4.4 million fund to compensate anyone whom the agency determines experienced sexual harassment and/or related retaliation at the company after Jan. 1, 2014.
In a case the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider, United Airlines Inc. has reached a $1 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case that involved the issue of accommodating disabled employees.