People in Los Angeles who take a trip on an airplane, whether for work or pleasure, count on their flight attendants to make sure the flight is comfortable and safe. Moreover, flight attendants, like any other workers, expect to be treated fairly while on-the-job. However, according to a recent survey of flight attendants who work for the major airlines, sexual harassment remains a huge problem in the industry. The survey was conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants, a trade union that, as its name implies, represents the flight crew members who, first and foremost, are responsible for keeping airline passengers safe.
Within the last year, one-third of those flight attendants surveyed reported that they have been verbally harassed, usually by unruly passengers who may have been drinking. Among those who experienced verbal harassment, most of them said it happened at least three times in the last year. One in five flight attendants reported also being physically offended or harassed in some way. Of these, over 40 percent said physical harassment happened at least three times within the last year.
The types of harassment the flight attendants described were much more than just an off-color joke or remark. Flight attendants reported being asked for sexual favors and also being told about passengers' sexual fantasies. On the physical level, flight attendants reported being grabbed or fondled in their private areas or on their bottoms.
Interestingly, fewer than one in 10 flight attendants said they reported incidents of sexual harassment to their employers. On the other hand, over two-thirds of those surveyed said that they didn't see their employers doing anything to make the problem go away.
Employers with a presence in California have an obligation to make sure their California employees have a work environment that is not hostile. While this does not mean that an employer can prevent every single incident of harassment, it does mean an employer has to keep its employees reasonably safe from harassment at the hands of supervisors, other employees and the company's customers.