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Airline passengers have the right to expect sexual safety

In the not so distant past, the "sexy stewardess" wasn't just a Halloween costume -- it was an common airline marketing ploy.

Unfortunately, that led to the idea that "anything goes" on airlines for a long time -- and some people still have their minds stuck in the past. This endangers both airline employees and passengers -- putting them at risk of sexual assault and physical violence each flight.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sexual assaults on airlines are actually increasing in recent years, not decreasing. Between 2014 and 2017, reports of assaults jumped 66 percent. One out of every five flight attendants has taken reports of sexual assault between passengers.

The police weren't informed of even half of the incidents.

Experts say that this isn't particularly unusual. Sexual assaults often go unreported and victim's complaints are downplayed in the name of keeping the company's (or airline's) reputation safely intact. Victims say that they were often dismissed or clearly given the impression that nothing was going to be done to address the issue.

Expectations, however, are changing. In the wake of numerous sexual harassment scandals in a variety of high-profile industries, more and more victims are stepping forward. Companies are also realizing that they have an accountability -- whether the victim is an employee or a guest on the property.

Premise liability laws generally can't be used to hold a company -- like a hotel, boat or airline -- responsible for the criminal acts of a nonemployee. However, that changes if there's ample evidence that the company could anticipate the problem and didn't take adequate safety measures to protect the safety of guests.

In the case of an airline, it wouldn't be asking much to give flyers a pamphlet that listed unacceptable sexual behavior and clearly explained to victims how to report an incident. Nor would it be too much to train flight attendants on the appropriate response to an incident of sexual harassment.

If you've been the victim of sexual assault on an airline, an attorney can discuss your options with you. No one should have to suffer an assault -- or its emotional aftermath -- without assistance.

Source:, "Sexual harassment in the skies? Disgusting, yes. Surprising, no," Peggy Drexler, Dec. 28, 2017

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