The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit on behalf of a SkyWest veteran who claims she was subjected to sexual harassment after being transferred to the airline’s Dallas-Ft. Worth facility.
The federal government has filed a discrimination lawsuit against regional air carrier SkyWest after a woman contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming she was subjected to sustained sexual harassment.
“This employee had over a decade of experience at SkyWest and before the sexual harassment had intended to retire there,” said E.E.O.C. trial attorney Alexa Lang. “Everyone deserves to feel safe at work and no one should be pushed out of her workplace by pervasive jokes about sexual violence.”
According to The Dallas Morning News, the E.E.O.C. filed its lawsuit against the Utah-based airline earlier this week, saying that the employee—who was stationed at SkyWest’s facility at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport—was sexually harassed by supervisors and colleagues, who made repeated rape jokes and “requests to perform demeaning sex acts.”
“The Parts Clerk Manager told her that any action by him in response to [the woman’s] complaint would likely put an even bigger target on her back,” the lawsuit alleges.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that SkyWest’s alleged failure to respond the woman’s sexual harassment complaints constitutes a violation of federal Title VII protections, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
“Title VII is intended to protect employees from unwelcome and offensive sexual comments and conduct in the workplace,” said E.E.O.C. Dallas District Office Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino. “The E.E.O.C. calls on companies to engage in remedial measures that are actually prompt and effective so that a person who draws the employer’s attention to a sexually hostile environment is not ultimately penalized for seeking the protections of federal law.”
The Dallas Morning News notes that the plaintiff went on unpaid medical leave three months after being transferred to Dallas-Fort Worth because of the “pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment.”
Once the woman returned to work, she claims that her coworkers made a concerted effort to make her feel uncomfortable, going so far as to “[hump] a candy jar” resembling a woman and “[making] obscene comments about rape.”
After the woman asked to be moved to part-time employment and filing a report with SkyWest’s human resources department, she was placed on paid leave.
“The Employee Relations Manager then interviewed a handful of Defendant’s employees, some of whom corroborated [the woman’s] claims by confirming sexually inappropriate jokes in the workplace,” the E.E.O.C. wrote in its lawsuit.
SkyWest, adds the Morning News, a regional carrier contracted by American Airlines, operates about 5,600 flights per month out of Dallas-Fort Worth.
In a statement, SkyWest said that its “employees are held to the highest standards of professionalism.”
“While it is our policy to not comment on pending litigation, we have zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind and have established processes in place to follow up on any reported concerns,” the company said.