Two young women are suing a US airline for USD 5 million each, claiming the airline fired them after they reported their boss’s habit of masturbating at work, including doing so in front of them.
The women want compensatory and punitive damages from Delta Air Lines, the New York Daily News reported.
One of the women worked for Delta and the other worked for a Delta affiliate, Alliance Ground International, at New York’s JFK Airport. Both women were hired in 2015 as back office cargo agents. The airline appointed a 56-year-old male employee with 25 years service to train them and act as their mentor.
A lawyer for the two women says that the younger of his clients, aged 19, saw the supervisor sitting at his desk with his penis exposed. Her 29-year-old colleague claims to have seen the same thing at work on another occasion.
The court papers say that when the older woman reported the incidents to a boss, she was told that Delta was already aware that the supervisor had been masturbating in the office but didn’t intend to do anything about it for fear that the supervisor might lose his job.
The women’s lawyer said the bosses of the section were “a group of men who all knew each other for a long time” and they made a joke of the issue.
Court papers say the younger woman was advised to keep quiet last year when she tried to report the alleged sexual harassment. Two months later she was abruptly fired over a seemingly unrelated matter. The older woman complained too – after the supervisor allegedly again masturbated in the office within her sight – but she too was sacked soon afterwards, also over an apparently unrelated matter.
The paper said Delta issued a statement saying that its investigation into the allegation “resulted in the termination of two employees”. It wouldn’t confirm whether one of the employees was the supervisor in question. It said the two young women had been legitimately terminated “for reasons completely unrelated to any allegations of misconduct by others”.
“Delta takes allegations of inappropriate conduct very seriously. We promptly investigate and take appropriate action when issues of this nature are brought to our attention,” the statement said.
The New York Daily News and another newspaper both said their reporters had tried to contact the supervisor but that he “could not be reached”.
Written by Peter Needham