American Airlines urged to change handling of sexual assaults now
An American Airlines flight attendant is calling on the company’s top executive to make fundamental changes in how the airline handles cases involving employees who, like her, are sexually assaulted in the course of their employment at American.
In her letter to American Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker, Kimberly Goesling also informed the airline of her intent to retire, following a flying career that spanned more than 30 years. Her lawsuit against the airline, including accusations of sexual assault and retaliation, is set for trial January 24.
“I shouldn’t be the one who has to leave,” Ms. Goesling writes. “It should be you that left long before now, you and every other manager and individual at American who played a role in making the company’s response to my sexual assault yet another attack on me and my family.”
In the letter, Ms. Goesling calls on the airline and its management to live up to its own standards, which encourage employees to speak up if they suspect illegal or unethical conduct. She also suggests the airline provide additional training for managers dealing with sexual assault victims so that they will no longer ask – as they did in her case – what the victim was wearing when attacked.
“I think Kimberly feels an obligation to the women and men who will remain behind at the airline,” says attorney Robert Miller of Miller Bryant LLP, who represents Ms. Goesling. “Her hope is that, in writing this letter, she can create change at the airline because they certainly seem to need it.”
Ms. Goesling’s lawsuit alleges she was attacked while in Germany by a celebrity chef whom American Airlines hired without conducting a background check. Evidence in the case shows the airline continued to employ him even after it learned of prior allegations against him for alcohol abuse and inappropriate sexual conduct.
When she reported the attack to the airline, managers promised to pay Ms. Goesling for treatment and allow her time away from work shifts, as needed. They did neither, instead removing her from her coveted position on the airline’s recruitment team, according to the lawsuit.