The vast majority of us are concerned about our safety whenever we travel by plane. But most of us are worried about technical failure or flying into a thunderstorm, not about the people working for the airlines.
One woman had such a harrowing experience with an American Airlines employee that she filed a lawsuit against him for sexual harassment, stalking, and inflicting emotional distress. A man who introduced himself as Ahmad got Ashley Barno’s number from her luggage tag, texted her over 100 times, and even followed her on the plane from San Diego.
Barno’s also suing American Airlines for hiring him and whose other employees had been aware that this wasn’t the first time that Ahmad acted this way. Bored Panda reached out to American Airlines to clear up a few questions we had. Scroll down for the interview.
Ashley Barno became the victim of unwanted advances when an American Airlines employee got her phone number from her luggage tag
Image credits: Ashley Barno
Here are some of the messages he sent her. He also followed her on the plane and allegedly sent her suggestive images
Image credits: Ashley Barno
Ahmad was escorted off the plane when it landed in Chicago after Barno talked to a flight attendant who “was helpful and nice and kind enough to make sure she got home OK,” her attorney Joe Samo said. The very same helpful employee confirmed to Barno that staff members were aware of Ahmad and what he does.
According to Samo, his client still feels nervous when traveling by plane, even though the event with Ahmad took place in April 2019. American Airlines fired the employee after this particular incident. Company spokesman Joshua Freed had this to say: “The employee involved in the complaint is no longer employed at American Airlines.” It’s unclear if Ahmad is the man’s real name or if he was using it to protect his identity.
The lawsuit includes information that Ahmad allegedly also sent Barno suggestive images. Because of all of this, Barno had to seek professional help because she had problems sleeping, eating, and socializing with her loved ones. The first hearing for the case will occur in June 2020, so it’ll still be a while before we find out the results of the lawsuit.
“Basically, after this happened, her sense of privacy is heightened, her concern about who has her number and now she is concerned when she has to give it out,” her attorney Samo told the media. “She is nervous when she is alone and has to travel for work.”
But it’s not just passengers who can be harassed while on flights. A lot of flight attendants also become the targets of unwanted advances and abuse.
Flight attendants get harassed too
The Association of Flight Attendants states that a shocking 68 percent of flight attendants experienced sexual harassment during their careers. 35 percent experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers in the last year. And of those, 68 percent faced it three or more times. While a third faced it five or more times in the past year.
Meanwhile, 18 percent of flight attendants experienced physical sexual harassment from passengers in the last year. The staff who were harassed said that they had their intimate areas “touched, felt, pulled, grabbed, groped, slapped, rubbed, and fondled.” Some passengers cornered them, lunged at them, gave them hugs, kisses, and even humped them. The saddest part is that 68 percent of flight attendants mentioned that they didn’t notice their employers addressing harassment at work over the past year.
The employee “was not on duty for American at the time” of the incident
When contacted by Bored Panda, American Airlines highlighted that the company “takes the privacy and safety of our customers seriously” and noted that they took action when faced with the situation.
“We investigated the allegations and took appropriate action.”
A representative of American Airlines also confirmed to Bored Panda that the employee in question had been fired: “The employee involved in the complaint is no longer employed at American Airlines.”
What’s more, the company said that the employee “was not on duty for American at the time” of the incident.