Notable tech executive Randi Zuckerberg says that she faced sexual harassment from a fellow passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight. In a post on Facebook, she claims that flight attendants ignored her complaints and dismissed the offender because of his status as a frequent flier.
Inappropriate comments from her seatmate began almost immediately after Zuckerberg boarded her plane from Los Angeles to Mazatlán, Mexico. She was asked if she had sexual fantasies about her travel partner by the man next to her, who continued to make vulgar comments as other female passengers got on the flight.
Both Zuckerberg and her colleague reported the traveler's salacious behavior to the cabin crew, who reportedly did not take any action. The passenger also was provided with alcohol throughout the flight, and at one point, a flight attendant reportedly stopped by to ask, "Are you behaving today?”
Flight attendants did offer Zuckerberg a seat at the back of the plane, an offer which she turned down: “Why is it the woman that needs to switch seats in this situation? Shouldn’t he have been thrown off the plane?!" she said.
“We cannot support businesses that are complicit in allowing this behavior, and value the money of harassers over the comfort of their passengers,” she continued.
Alaska Airlines has since began an investigation into the incident: “What Randi Zuckerberg shared with us is very disturbing,” a spokesman, Ray Lane, said. “We want our guests to feel safe. As a company, we have zero tolerance for any type of sexual misconduct that creates an unsafe environment for our guests and crew members.”
“While it never should have happened in the first place, I am thankful that they are taking the situation seriously,” wrote Zuckerberg on her updated Facebook post.
The New York Times noted there is no centralized database where data about sexual harassment on airlines is collected. The FBI has investigated 58 sexual assault situations on airlines that occurred from January to September of 2016, but the real number of incidents is unknown.
“Passengers have a right to feel secure, and airlines have a legal duty to protect passengers from harassment, especially if they are aware that a passenger is being harassed,” said Andrew J. Maloney, a lawyer who specializes in aviation law, who believes Alaska Airlines could be found liable if Zuckerberg were to sue. “Once Ms. Zuckerberg told flight attendants about this man’s behavior, they should have moved him to a different seat or ejected him from the airplane.”
Randi Zuckerberg is a former executive of Facebook, the company founded by her brother Mark Zuckerberg. She currently works as the chief executive of Zuckerberg Media, a marketing and production company.
[Photo: Getty Images]