And second, you'd have to be a woefully incompetent flight attendant, to tell the victim that she shouldn't "take it personally" because the harasser is a frequent flier who "just doesn't have a filter."

But third, you'd have to be a special kind of stupid when the victim has about as broad a social media megaphone as anybody on the planet: Randi Zuckerberg, founder of Zuckerberg Media and the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckberberg.

I won't repeat everything the harasser allegedly said; you can check out Zuckerberg's social media posts here and here if you'd like the gory details.

But in summary, he allegedly unloaded on her with "explicit, lewd, and highly offensive sexual comments," from the moment she boarded the first class cabin of an Alaska Airlines flight. And when she complained to the airplane's staff, they allegedly told her they'd "had to talk with him about his behavior in the past."

They did propose a solution: She should give up her first class seat and move to a middle seat in coach at the back of the airplane.

"I almost did [move], until I realized ... why should I have to move? I am the one that is being harassed! By a traveler who has a KNOWN history by these very flight attendants of being inappropriate and offensive in the past," Zuckerberg wrote in an email to Alaska Airlines executives that she then posted on Facebook and Twitter.

To be 100 percent clear it doesn't matter who the victim is; nobody deserves to be subjected to that kind of harassment and humiliation.

And with the combination of the power of social media and the overdue change in climate, where it seems sexual harassment is being taken seriously, it's possible this report might have prompted reaction no matter who the victim was.

But I'm guessing neither the harasser nor the flight attendants recognized Zuckerberg's name or knew who she was. Because Zuckerberg has more than 1.2 million followers on Facebook, and almost 200,000 more on Twitter, so when she posted the episode on social media, you can imagine it reached far and wide quite quickly.

Within 90 minutes of her post, to their credit, Alaska Airlines replied to Zuckerberg. Soon afterward, Zuckerberg updated it: "I just got off the phone with two executives from Alaska Airlines. ... While this situation never should have happened in the first place, I am pleased that they seem to be taking the situation very seriously."

The upshot? For now, the offending passenger can't even get a middle seat in the back of he plane. His "travel privileges have been revoked" on Alaska Airlines pending an investigation, the airline said in a statement. 

Is that all? Maybe not. At least one aviation law expert thinks Alaska Airlines could have a bigger problem on its hands. 

Andrew J. Maloney, an aviation lawyer, told the New York Times that based on Zuckerberg's description of the events, she could have a good legal case against the airline over its flight attendants' reaction.

"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," Mr. Maloney told the Times. "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."
 

Published on: Dec 1, 2017
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