Two NFL players are suing United Airlines for failing to respond adequately to a sexually aggressive female passenger during a February 10 flight.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles, the unnamed athletes claim that they shared a row with the accused on a redeye from Los Angeles to Newark. Through various points of the flight, the female passenger allegedly groped one man’s penis and thigh but was only relocated by flight attendants after removing her aisle mate’s face mask and elbowing him. The assaulted man claims the woman told him he looked “frightening” wearing the protective accessory.
Did Race Play A Factor In Response?
The accused is described in court documents as middle-aged and white, as well as “disheveled and unbalanced.” Both football players (John Doe 1 and John Doe 2) are African-American. “Fearful of the perception of being a male victim and the racial stigma of being a young African American male, John Doe 1 patiently pleaded for the assailant to stop and removed her hand,” the suit alleges. The players concede in the document the woman may have also been on drugs. Still, it’s not hard to imagine the reversed response to two Black NFL players groping a white female passenger on a redeye flight.
United Responds With Vouchers
The male passengers were given $150 vouchers for their troubles, but now they’re seeking punitive damages for emotional distress, negligence, sexual battery, sexual assault, and battery.
“We bring this lawsuit with the hope that it will be one of the last of its kind,” the lawyers for the men said in a statement to ABC News. “Our wish would be that in the future no passengers’ multiple warnings and complaints to flight attendants, the onboard authority figures, will go unheeded until it’s too late and the damage has been done.”
The responses on Twitter are colorful.
There is nothing worse than sitting next to a middle aged white woman, who is alone and drinking, and I’m white.
— Bill M. (@BillMo617) May 20, 2020
— 165 days until Nov 3🗽 (@snowmanomics) May 20, 2020
He too movement?
— Shopping Cart 2 : The Reckoning (@BlueRussian35) May 20, 2020
And these men were in a particularly difficult circumstance: young black men (one a football player) fending off a white woman. If the roles were reversed, no one would find this funny, or blame the victim if she fought back. These men couldn’t do that.
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) May 21, 2020
United Airlines responding by giving them each $150 vouchers after experiencing this is peaking fucking capitalism. Not even refunding their flights, just no, just “here’s $150 for being sexually assaulted, now on your way.” United – you asked for the worst in the sky.
— Tom (@nooktastical) May 21, 2020
A man has to make four complaints before getting any help. Imagine a woman saying one time “this man is sexually harassing me.” He’s gone.
— Michael Francis (@MikeMickJee) May 20, 2020
United is yet to comment on the lawsuit.
Eric has revolved in and out of passport controls for over 20 years. From his first archaeological field school in Belize to rural villages in Ethiopia and Buddhist temples in Laos, Eric has come smile to smile with all walks of life. A writer, photographer and entrepreneur, the LA native believes the power of connectivity and community is enriched through travel.