Flight Attendants Applaud DeFazio Bill to Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation

Washington, DC (November 19, 2019) – Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) President Sara Nelson released the following statement on the “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act,” (H.R. 5139) introduced today by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

"It’s not enough to say sexual harassment and assault is wrong; we need concrete actions to stop it, respond with victim support, engage every stakeholder, set a clear tone of zero tolerance from leadership, and deter perpetrators with clear consequences for their actions. Chairman DeFazio is marching us forward with this bill to do just that in all forms of transportation. Flight Attendants approve! It’s a no brainer for every member of Congress who wants to protect their constituents in transportation to sign on and pass this legislation quickly," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing 50,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines.

“In transportation, the number one priority is safety. That means not only getting the traveling public to their destination safely, but also ensuring their safety throughout the trip,” said Chair DeFazio. “Unfortunately, sexual assault and harassment occurs all too often to the employees of transportation providers and individuals who are traveling, and more must be done to protect them. Today, I introduced legislation to require transportation providers to develop formal policies to help prevent sexual harassment and assault and help law enforcement hold those who perpetrate these egregious acts accountable. In addition, this legislation requires DOT to begin collecting reportable data on the number of sexual assault and harassment incidents on transportation systems. I look forward to this legislation passing through Committee and ultimately being signed into law because we need to build a safer transportation system for everyone.”

AFA calls attention to key elements of the bill the union has been calling for to eradicate sexual harassment from air travel:

  • Clear policies and procedures to address sexual assault or harassment incidents in transportation
  • Requires airlines, in consultation with labor unions representing personnel, to establish a formal policy on sexual assault or harassment incidents including:
    • a statement indicating that no transportation sexual assault or harassment incident is acceptable under any circumstance;
    • procedures that facilitate the reporting of a transportation sexual assault or harassment incidents;
  • Calls on airlines to prominently display, on the internet website and through the use of appropriate signage, a written statement that advises passengers that the airline has adopted a formal policy on sexual assault or harassment incidents; and informs passengers of the procedure for reporting a transportation sexual assault or harassment.
  • Adds sexual physical harassment to the definition of crewmember interference.
  • Increases the maximum crewmember interference civil penalty to $35,000.
  • Directs the Department of Transportation to collect data annually, establish a clear reporting process and training on reporting procedures.

Last year, AFA released survey findings revealing widespread harassment of Flight Attendants. Over two-thirds of flight attendants experienced sexual harassment during their flying careers. Visit afacwa.org/metoo for the full survey results and results of a 2017 passenger on passenger sexual harassment survey.

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