Provided by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s Office
Congresswomen Lois Frankel (D-FL-21) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) sent a letter to 30 airline executives requesting they take immediate action to address sexual harassment in the industry among flight attendants and passengers. Members are asking these industry leaders to publicly denounce sexual harassment, reinforce the role of flight attendants as safety professionals, and work with the Association of Flight Attendants to put in place policies to address this systemic issue.
In the letter, the Members stated: “Approximately 80 percent of flight attendants are female and they are often objectified on a daily basis by passengers, coworkers, and superiors. It is perhaps not surprising that sexual harassment is prevalent given the industry’s past objectification of flight attendants. Not long ago, airlines used flight attendants, and their sexuality, as part of a marketing strategy to sell more airline tickets. As recently as 1993, flight attendants were required to weigh-in regularly to maintain their employment.”
A survey conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants found that 68 percent of flight attendants reported experiencing sexual harassment during their flying careers, and an equal percentage said they have not noticed any employer efforts over the past year to address sexual harassment at work.
“Flight attendants are responsible for our safety and comfort when traveling the skies. They deserve our respect, and shouldn’t fear sexual harassment and abuse while on the job. We need airline executives to lead and create policies to protect them,” said Frankel.
“During our recent hearing held by the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues, we heard about the problem of sexual harassment of airline flight attendants and the need for reforms and action to establish zero tolerance policies. We applaud Spirit, United, and Alaska Airlines for denouncing sexual harassment and supporting flight attendants and taking a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace. We trust all airlines are addressing this issue and will come forward with policies to establish zero tolerance policies throughout the industry,” said Comstock.
This action comes on the heels of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues hearing on sexual harassment in the service sector, where Members of Congress heard testimony by Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, on her experiences of sexual harassment in the airline industry.