It's about time that we all "speak out" regarding Sexual Harassment in the airline industry, because it does impact safety. April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and there is no better time than now to share the injustices. There are no protections for these women because EEOC has as little knowledge regarding aviation as does OSHA for airline safety. Unfortunately HR works for the company not the employee, and these women are required to remain silent until they retire.
A Captain grabs First Officer Laura Savino's breast while she's handflying the approach on short final. She has to make a choice between her physical embarrassment and the control of her body versus smacking the "man in charge" and the safety of everyone on board. She continues to fly, humiliated.
Sarah Hammel's recent article, sharing the rape of Flight Attendant Erica, speaks volumes as to the nightmare that is ongoing for many women. She was drug and the company did nothing. Erica was even asked what she wearing, as if it was her fault that pilot had no control of raping her because of the clothing she wore. Sexual harassment and rape is still ongoing and nobody is doing anything about it. Airline management blames the woman and appears to condone the behavior.
Then there was Captain Ratfield...
Captain Andrea Ratfield had a check airman pound on her door at 2 am to go drink with him. She refused, but he ensured her performance evaluation reflected her off-duty unwillingness to participate. Chief Pilots and a Regional Director gathered in an office to discuss the fit of her pants in vulgar terms. She followed due process, went to HR, yet they did nothing. Unfortunately things got worse after she spoke out. Then, at a female aviation event, someone put something in her drink and she awakens to a stranger raping her.
As if rape couldn't get any worse, a now Delta manager asked her if she was drinking at the time, as if that gave permission to the rapist. This manager was convinced that if she were drinking, she had to be an alcoholic and that was the reason for the rape. She was told that she would get rape counseling if she went into the HIMS program. Sadly, there was no rape counselling. They also never tested to see if she was an alcoholic. But they did lock her into a facility where VP James Graham (the very person who orchestrated my potential demise) sat on the board of directors. Once out of rehab, the company ordered a Dry Blood Spot PEth (DBS) test, a non FDA approved test, known to produce false positives, of which they used in attempted to remove her as a pilot. The chain of events clearly indicates the company was utilizing the HIMS program to remove her as a pilot, just as they attempted with the Section 15 process in my case.
Andrea is a fighter, not unlike Erica, and is the reason for the class action lawsuit against “USDTL” CASE NO. 22-CV-62325. Andrea also has a gender discrimination lawsuit against Delta. This woman went through years of hell putting up with and fighting the atrocities internally, and not until management decided to destroy her career, did she file her lawsuit. Standby, there is more to come on these cases.
Captain Ratfield also filed an ASAP report because she and her female first officer were ignored and laughed at when they attempted to notify the ground crew they were fueling the plane with the door closed. A violation and huge safety risk to all passengers on board. The ground crew refused to listen to the pilots because they were women. To my knowledge, the company took no action against the employees.
And then there was Christine Janning.
Christine filed a complaint against her perpetrator and the airline for the event and those that followed. Her management was even planning to send her to a mental health evaluation as Delta did with me, but at the news of Delta losing their case, their appeal, and the Seattle Times article with Delta finally throwing in the towel after a seven year battle, Christine's management decided otherwise.
This behavior should not be happening in today's world. But what can these women do? If they report, they are flagged as troublemakers and the rumors become about them. They are shunned professionally. They face losing their careers if they speak out. Some airlines also engage in a war of attrition, meaning management is simply going to battle and dragging it out in court for one purpose only... to financially break the complainant, as Delta did with my case.
Ladies, I'm asking you:
- Do not fear reporting. There are people out there willing to help you.
- Please do not sign an NDA. If the company wants you to settle, there is a reason. You do not have to sign an NDA as part of the agreement. Read Jet Boss and you'll see how Laura addressed it. I did not sign. We need to let the public know that these events are ongoing.
- If you are raped, go to the hospital and get tested.
- If you were drugged, go to the hospital and get a blood test.
- Do not remain silent, this is not your fault.
First we need to get the AIR21 law changed because it does not protect the employee as it should. Delta has proven that the AIR21 Statute (whistleblower law) is ineffective if the company declares a war of attrition on the employee. The airline's insurance pays their fees and the employee may not recoup all their expenses due to compensatory damages and only "reasonable" attorney fees.
Please help me change that law. Please Read, Sign, and Share the link below with everyone you know. We need to take action to help all employees. This law change is the first step. Stand by for the future FAR. It's time we address one of the most serious safety concerns of the airline industry.