How would you like to come to work every day if you knew that your colleagues – and customers – have probably seen photos of you naked and that you can not do anything to keep them from seeing more?  This was the situation faced by an unnamed flight attendant on United Airlines for years, according to a lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the airline on Friday in federal court. According to the lawsuit, the flight attendant (known only as Jane Doe) engaged in a friendly sexual relationship with a United pilot named Mark Uhlenbrock. During the relationship, which lasted from 2002 to 2006, she allowed him to take pictures of her both naked and partially dressed and in provocative poses, believing that the pictures would be seen by no one except the two of them. But Uhlenbrock began posting these pictures online without her knowledge. When she found out, she ended her relationship.
That was just the beginning of their problems. According to the lawsuit, Uhlenbrock has for years published the photos on "various websites" (presumably social media sites). One of his guards asked the passengers, "Seek them when you fly!" Another said she was "a new reason to fly 'Fly the Friendly Skies." Some of his posts identified her by name, explained that she was a United Airlines flight attendant, and ̵
This took a long time. Do that for a very long time. Although the lawsuit does not specify how many years it was, it is worth noting that the FBI conducted an investigation that led to Uhlenbrock's arrest in 2016 – ten years after the flight attendant broke up with him. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison, where he currently sits. The flight attendant sued Uhlenbrock three times, and he agreed to pay her $ 100,000.
If that is not harassment, what is it?
And what has United done year after year, while an employee of the world showed naked pictures to another employee? Absolutely nothing. It's not that the airline did not know about the naked pictures and posts. The flight attendant complained to the airline and asked her employer to stop harassment over several years. According to the lawsuit, she showed United the posts with the pictures of her, including one in which she is partially dressed in her flight attendant uniform, hoping that the airline would care how her uniform was portrayed, even if she did not did. Do not worry about her. She even tracked down IP addresses and time records that Uhlenbrock posted on company photos. Nevertheless, far from disciplining him, the airline let him retire with full benefits.
It confuses the mind, but according to the lawsuit, no sexual harassment in the workplace constituted by Uhlenbrock's behavior, United flight attendant executives said. According to the EEOC, "harassment is illegal if it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment". At least two of the flight attendant's staff members admitted they saw the photos posted by Uhlenbrock. Showing colleagues' naked pictures of a colleague, not to mention other people around the world with a social media account, does not count as a "hostile work environment". I'm not sure what that means.
United says it has a different account of the situation, though the airline so far refuses to say what that account is. Presumably his lawyers are waiting for their day in court. In statements sent to several news agencies, one company official said that "United does not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace," which of course every American company says about sexual harassment. The representative said that the company would "vigorously" defend itself against the lawsuit. The airline has not commented on whether the publication of naked pictures of an employee with their name and home airfield harassment from their point of view or not.