American Airlines Flight Attendants Sue for Sexual Harassment via Company’s Facebook Page

Two American Airlines flight attendants (Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin) are suing their employer for failing to enforce social media policies forbidding sexual harassment and gender discrimination. The women allege that they were verbally assaulted by their coworkers on various online forums and Facebook groups set up for American Airlines employees to interact with one another. 

Here is what we know about the harassment: 

  1. Medlin alleges that a group of male flight attendants began harassing her, both on forums and Facebook after she left her union position.
  2. Medlin alleges that she was called insulting names such as sow.
  3. Chinery alleges that she became a target for insults when she decided to run for a union position. 
  4. Chinery alleges she was called insulting names such as flipper (a synonym for a prostitute) and cunt. 
  5. Chinery alleges that some of her confidential information was posted publicly to the group. 
  6. Both women claim that they reported the harassment to the proper HR personnel, though neither was satisfied with the response. 
  7. Though HR told Chinery the matter was resolved, she found out months later that management never took appropriate action, and thus the abuse continued. 
  8. After Chinery complained, she alleges that her colleagues began calling her snitch and retaliated against her. The abuse became so bad, that Chinery eventually relocated to another crew in a neighboring city. 
  9. Male flight attendants in similar positions were not harassed like the two plaintiffs allege they were.
  10. Two of the men, named as harassers in the suit, have since been promoted and received special assignments. Both men continue to use profanity on social media, despite the airline’s policies forbidding such behavior.  
  11. Eleven women claim to have been bullied by these same men, though American Airlines doesn’t seem to be taking their complaints seriously. 

The case is currently pending in Pennsylvania. American Airlines denies the allegations

What do you think—is this more about sexual harassment and gender discrimination or union politics? Does it even matter for purposes of this case?

*image by Chris Brignola

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