United Against United
 

United Against United

United Against United is dedicated to demanding accountability from United Airlines for its woefully inadequate handling of the sexual assault of a female minor aboard its aircraft.  United’s inappropriate treatment of the traumatized assault victim is only the latest in an ever-growing list of United’s offenses against its customers’ safety and wellbeing.  United Against United calls on Congress to investigate United’s business practices and corporate culture, and to encourage, demand, or outright force United to take adequate care of the passengers who entrust it with their safety.

The Young Girl’s Assault

The following facts appear in a criminal complaint filed in US District Court:

  • “On or about July 23, 2017 Defendant … was seated next to a minor female passenger (the ‘Victim’).”
  • “Some time into the flight, the victim fell asleep.”
  • “While [the Victim] was sleeping, Defendant…put his hand on her groin and inner thigh, and began rubbing the Victim through her clothing … [and] also tried to put his other hand inside of the Victim’s pants.”
  • Defendant “did knowingly engage in sexual contact, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2246(3), with a minor female…with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, and around and gratify the sexual desire of another person.”
  • “The Victim immediately reported Defendant…to a flight attendant and asked to be moved to another seat because Defendant…had to touched her. The Victim was moved to another seat.”

The young girl, who was traveling to a selective leadership program to which she had been accepted at Princeton University, sat in her seat crying. Apart from granting the young victim’s request to move away from the man that had sexually assaulted her, upon information and believe, United did little other than offer her some airline food or peanuts. Most appallingly, upon information and belief, no one from United reported the allegations of assault to the pilot or to law enforcement. United allowed the perpetrator of the crime, who maintains citizenship abroad and could have fled the United States, to leave the plane without so much as answering a question or giving a statement. It wasn’t until the young girl called her mother once she exited the plane that law enforcement was notified in response to the mom’s phone calls. Unfortunately, it was too late, and the perpetrator of the crime had already exited the airport.

United’s abdication of responsibility is shocking. United undeniably knew that one of its customers, a child, had claimed to have suffered sexual assault during one of its flights. Without question, United should have contacted law enforcement. Had it done so, FBI agents (which have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the air) could have met the young girl, her attacker, and possible witnesses at the door of the airplane when it landed to ensure the claim was investigated and that a young girl would have been protected and supported.  Because of United’s failure, the perpetrator of the crime was not apprehended until the next day.

United simply ignored the problem, leaving a young girl alone and frightened, tears in her eyes, 32,000 feet in the air and thousands of miles away from home.

Flying The Uncaring Skies

Unfortunately, United’s treatment of Rebecca’s sexual assault is consistent with recent incidents, all of which paint the portrait of company that is callous and indifferent to the suffering of its passengers.

In July of 2014, a teenage girl alleged that a man groped her breasts.[1] The girl’s mother claims she reported the incident to a United flight attendant and asked to be move but was told that she and her daughter needed to return to their seats.  According to one article,[2] “In a letter seen by News Corp, United denied the allegations and suggested that [the girl] was to blame.” Shockingly, the Telegraph reported that the letter stated, “your daughter wore extremely short shorts…You have provided no evidence of any negligence on the part of United regarding this matter.”

In May of 2016, while a woman was flying on United flight 960 from Newark to Germany, she alleged she was sexually assaulted by the male passenger seated beside her.  Because it was an overnight flight, the woman decided to take a nap.  While she was sleeping, and the cabin lights were off, the man draped a blanket over himself and her.  He then proceeded to grab and hold her breast.  She promptly alerted the flight attendants and after some time, she was moved to a different seat.  She recalled that the flight attendants tried to appease her with free food and wine.  Other than these token gestures, United did nothing and they notified no one.  The alleged perpetrator walked off the plane with complete impunity.

United made waves in March of this year, when it demanded a small girl, estimated to be 10 years old, change clothes before it would allow her to board a plane with her father, a company employee. The girl’s leggings were deemed inappropriate and a violation of the company’s dress standards.[3]  United forced the girl to put on an additional dress over her clothes before it would allow her and her family to board.

Again in April of this year, a 12-year-old girl flying United from Newark to Phoenix alleged that she was groped by the passenger seated next to her.  She reported the incident to the flight attendants, who offered her travel vouchers.  She reported that the flight attendants did not notify law enforcement and, once the plane landed, the perpetrator exited the plane and presumably left the airport. [4]

Most famously, in April, United decided to remove a paying passenger, Dr. David Dao, from one of its flights to make room for its commuting crew members.[5] When Dr. Dao refused to be bumped from the seat he had already taken, United recruited the Chicago police to forcibly remove Dr. Dao, who suffered a concussion, broken nose, and lost teeth as he was dragged down the aisle.[6]  United initially told the press and employees that Dr. Dao had been “disruptive and belligerent,” but videos taken by passengers suggested otherwise.[7]

Most recently, in May of this year, a female passenger flying alone on United alleged that the passenger next to her groped her while she was sleeping.  The female passenger reported the incident to the flight attendants, who moved her, but did not notify the authorities.[8]

In the wake of these scandals, United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz told the world that United would treat them as a turning point. “Our actions will speak louder than our words,” he said. “We will do better,” he promised.[9]  United has long promised that its passengers would “Fly the Friendly Skies.”  In the most recent cause involving the sexual assault, United has once again failed to live up to those promises.

In the wake of these scandals, United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz told the world that United would treat them as a turning point.  “Our actions will speak louder than our words,” he said. “We will do better,” he promised.[10]  United has long promised that its passengers would “Fly the Friendly Skies.”  In the most recent cause involving the sexual assault, United has once again failed to live up to those promises.

The status quo cannot stand.

How You Can Help

If you believe the time has come for United Airlines to be held accountable for its failures, and to protect victims like the young girl sexually assaulted on the United flight, please stand with the victim’s family to make a change.

Sign the family’s petition calling for a congressional investigation into United’s corporate culture and practices and ways the public can be kept safer on United Airlines’ flights.

________________

 

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3544118/Chelsea-Schiffel-15-groped-United-Airlines-flight-wearing-short-shorts.html

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/teen-girl-groped-by-elderly-man-on-flight-says-united-airlines-b/

[3] http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/27/521649877/outrage-explanations-after-united-bans-girls-from-flight-for-wearing-leggings

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/united-flight-woman-groped_us_58ee2887e4b0df7e2046f8bd

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/10/business/united-flight-passenger-dragged.html

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrDWY6C1178

[7] http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/27/news/companies/united-airlines-dao-settlement/index.html

[8] http://www.tmz.com/2017/06/09/stephanie-anders-piercing-artist-accuses-actor-sexual-battery-flight/

[9] http://www.businessinsider.com/united-ceo-oscar-munoz-congress-testimony-2017-5

[10] http://www.businessinsider.com/united-ceo-oscar-munoz-congress-testimony-2017-5

 

xFREE Case Review