We didn’t need the #MeToo movement to know that flight attendants are often subjected to verbal and physical sexual harassment on the job.
But let’s hope the #MeToo movement – and the recent survey of more than 3,500 flight attendants at 29 different airline by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA – puts a stop to it.
According to the study, more than two-thirds of flight attendants in the U.S. have experienced sexual harassment during their flying careers.
More than one-in-three flight attendants say they have experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers, and nearly one-in-five have experienced physical sexual harassment from passengers in the last year alone.
What’s being done about it? Not enough.
While Alaska, United, and even Spirit have taken some step to address the issue, 68 percent of flight attendants say they saw no efforts by airlines to address workplace sexual harassment over the last year.
“While much of the coverage of the #MeToo movement has focused on high-profile cases in the entertainment industry and politics, this survey underscores why AFA has long been pushing to eradicate sexism and harassment within our own industry,” said Sara Nelson, AFA President. “The time when flight attendants were objectified in airline marketing and people joked about ‘coffee, tea, or me’ needs to be permanently grounded. #TimesUp for the industry to put an end to its sexist past.”
Here’s more detail from the survey results:
*35 percent of flight attendants experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers in the last year. Of those, 68 percent faced it three or more times, and a third five or more times in the past year.
Flight attendants described the verbal sexual harassment as comments that are “nasty, unwanted, lewd, crude, inappropriate, uncomfortable, sexual, suggestive, and dirty.”
*18 percent of flight attendants experienced physical sexual harassment from passengers in the last year. More than 40% of those suffered physical abuse three or more times. This type of harassment included having their breasts, buttocks and crotch area “touched, felt, pulled, grabbed, groped, slapped, rubbed, and fondled” both on top of and under their uniforms. Other abuse included passengers cornering or lunging at them followed by unwanted hugs, kisses and humping.
*Only 7 percent of the flight attendants who experienced abuse have reported sexual harassment to their employer. More often, flight attendants said they respond to verbal and sexual harassment by avoiding the passenger, directly addressing the passenger about their behavior or using another method to try to diffuse or deflect the situation.