By Erin L. Kilgore

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed a lawsuit against United Airlines, Inc. and alleged that United violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment) by subjecting a female flight attendant to a hostile work environment.

According to the EEOC, a United pilot frequently posted sexually explicit images and personally identifying information of a United flight attendant (his ex-girlfriend) to various websites, and the posts, which were seen by co-workers, adversely affected her work environment.  The EEOC contends that United failed to prevent and correct the pilot’s behavior, even after the flight attendant made numerous complaints and provided substantial evidence to support her complaints.

As explained by a trial attorney in the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office: “Employers have an obligation to take steps to stop sexual harassment in the workplace when they learn it is occurring through cyber-bullying via the internet and social media.” According to the EEOC, by failing to take action to stop the harassment in response to the flight attendant’s complaints, United enabled the harassment to continue and created a hostile work environment.  United has stated that it disagrees with the EEOC’s description of the situation.

Additional information about the lawsuit can be found in the EEOC’s press release, and summaries can be found here and here.