Airlines may have to report incidents of sexual harassment and assault to the federal government each year.
The bill, called the “Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act,” would also require transportation providers to issue policies for how passengers can report sexual assault and harassment, and what employees will do about it. The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., proposes these companies also have a formal anti-sexual harassment and assault policy, and state it on websites and other places.
Employees in the aviation industry are uniquely challenged because law enforcement is often out of reach during a flight.
“We often get reports of passengers physically touching flight attendants in inappropriate ways and passengers touching other passengers in ways that can only be considered abusive,” Abby Alconcher, who works in the employee assistance program at the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said in a statement. The union represents some 26,000 flight attendants at American Airlines.
“On our international flights, we have special problems reporting incidents to authorities abroad, where the laws and enforcement of those laws can be very complex,” Alconcher said. “These new guidelines and federal requirements are much needed and will help make the skies safer.”