A United Pilot Posted Nude Photos Of An Attendant Online & The Company Didn't Act, A Lawsuit Claims
A new lawsuit filed Thursday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges that United Airlines did nothing to stop a pilot from posting nude photographs of a flight attendant online for nearly a decade. According to the lawsuit, the airline company failed to act on multiple reports of harassment regarding a United Airlines pilot who was regularly sharing sexually explicit photos, videos, and stories of a flight attendant he'd once dated online.
"United was aware of the intimate details of how its pilot was harassing its flight attendant, but took no responsibility to put a stop to it," The Miami Herald reported EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez said in a statement. "Over a period of many years, the flight attendant had to work every day in fear of humiliation if a co-worker or customer recognized her from the pilot's postings."
United has denied wrongdoing, telling Bustle in a statement:
We have reviewed the allegations in the complaint and disagree with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s description of the situation. United does not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace and will vigorously defend against this case
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in San Antonio, Texas, the EEOC is suing United on the grounds the airline discriminated against the female flight attendant by knowingly subjecting her to a sexually hostile work environment, The San Antonio Express-News reported. Documents filed as part of the lawsuit claim the flight attendant dated United Airlines pilot Mark Uhlenbrock from 2002 to 2006, during which time she allowed him to take sexually explicit photographs and videos of her. In 2006, however, a gate agent reportedly told the flight attendant that nude photographs of her had been posted online and someone was pretending to be her on a swingers website. When the woman realized Uhlenbrock was behind the postings, she ended their relationship.
Uhlenbrock's non-consensual sharing of the flight attendant's nude photographs didn't end when their relationship did. In their lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that, over the course of the next 10 years, Uhlenbrock "continued to regularly post sexually explicit photos, videos, and stories" of the woman online. And according to The Miami Herald, some of Uhlenbrock's posts included identifying details like the flight attendant's name, home airport, or hints about which airline she worked for. During that time, the woman "diligently and aggressively pursued efforts to stop the sexually offensive conduct," The San Antonio Express-News quoted the EEOC as having said in its lawsuit.
Along with obtaining two restraining orders against Uhlenbrock, the woman also filed civil lawsuits against him and reported his harassing behavior to United on more than one occasion beginning in 2011. But according to the San Antonio Express-News, the EEOC alleged United told the woman that what Uhlenbrock was doing did not constitute sexual harassment in the workplace and thus "did not warrant intervention or action" by the airline.
In 2015, Uhlenbrock's non-consensual sharing of the woman's sexually explicit photographs led to him being arrested by the FBI for internet stalking. In June 2016, six months after United placed him on long-term paid disability, Uhlenbrock plead not guilty and received a 41-month prison sentence. According to New York Magazine's The Cut, he was finally removed from United's payroll in July 2017.