A woman claims that an intoxicated United Airlines passenger groped and sexually harassed her while a flight attendant, who witnessed the ordeal, continued to serve him drinks.
Huffington Post reports that Jennifer Rafieyan, 47, and her 12-year-old little girl were aboard a United Airlines plane in March, awaiting takeoff, when a clearly intoxicated 64-year-old man was placed in an empty seat next to them. Rafeiyan said that man was so drunk that the airline attendant guided him to his seat.
Once seated, the man allegedly began harassing Rafieyan. Over the course of a five-hour flight, he reportedly rubbed Rafieyan’s legs, grabbed her knee, kissed her hand and even put his head on her shoulder.
“That really grossed me out. My daughter was right there.”
Rafieyan admitted that she doesn’t react strongly to confrontation. She said she felt “meek” and wasn’t sure what to say, but she was extremely uncomfortable with the unwanted harassment.
“I don’t react well. I freeze. When a man is inappropriate with me, I usually just run from it and maybe tell somebody. But I felt trapped. I couldn’t leave the seat because I didn’t trust him near my daughter.”
When her daughter got up to use the restroom, Rafieyan got up as well, and told an attendant that the inebriated man was groping her. Rafieyan said that not only did the attendant seem accustomed to such complaints, but she also said that there was nothing that could be done.
“She said, ‘I’m so sorry. We felt really bad putting him next to you, but there was nothing we could do. He was doing the same kind of stuff to the other flight attendant.’”
Further, the flight attendant continued to serve the man alcohol after Rafieyan complained. The man allegedly become so intoxicated that he started yelling at other passengers and accusing them of stealing his passport. He was so angry that he refused to sit back down until an attendant threatened to land early.
Rafieyan wrote a letter to United Airlines explaining what happened and questioning why a drunk person was allowed to board the plane when it’s against FAA rules. United Airline’s response was to offer her four $100 travel vouchers. She said the airline never once acknowledged her sexual harassment claims. She emailed the airline back, rejecting the vouchers.
“I’m sorry but I find this unacceptable. If you review the complaint, you will note that I did not ask for any monetary reimbursement but instead answers … I feel devalued as a human being.”
Rafieyan reported the incident to the FAA, and officials encouraged her to also file a complaint with the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. She said at this point, she is more upset with United’s response than the actual assault, especially in light of the recent ordeal in which two girls were banned from a United Airlines flight when they wore leggings.
Several allegations against United Airlines surfaced after a viral video revealed that staff forced a doctor off of a United flight in order to make room for employees.
— Kaylyn Davis (@kaylyn_davis) April 10, 2017