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Flight attendants sue over vile abuse on social media

March 15, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Claiming that they have been called prostitutes, sows (and far worse) on Facebook and other social media, two flight attendants have taken to the law, suing the airline that employs them over the alleged sexual harassment.

The airline is American Airlines and the lawsuit was reported in North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer. The attendants have reportedly filed federal lawsuits against the airline over allegedly failing to enforce rules against sexual harassment on social media.

If nothing else, the suit is a good reminder that social media is just that – social. It’s a public forum, and any abuse or slander is a serious matter.

According to the paper, the two plaintiffs (who are seeking unspecified monetary damages) claim American failed to enforce its policies governing social media use by employees. The rules forbid slurs or other online insults – whether the abuse takes place in company forums or on the users’ own accounts.

One of the plaintiff’s lawyers told the paper that online harassment of her client began after she resigned from a union position. A group of male flight attendants allegedly started hounding her client on Facebook and other social media, referring to her with insulting terms like “sow” (which is a female pig and rhymes with cow, for those unused to farming terminology).

The other plaintiff says the abuse began after she announced she was running for a union position. She alleges confidential information about her was posted publicly and she was called foul and vicious names. According to the lawsuit, these names included “flipper” (American slang for prostitute) and “c***” – an old English four-letter word which, when used without asterisks, needs no translation.

The alleged online abuse sounds rather like the phenomenon known in Australia as “slut-shaming”.

Both women contend that they although they reported the alleged harassment to American Airlines’ human resources department, HR didn’t take appropriate steps to defend them or put an end to the abuse.

Written by Peter Needham

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