Logan airplane cleaner to file sexual harassment claim

A JetBlue plane on the tarmac at Logan Airport.

A former cleaner for a JetBlue subcontractor at Logan Airport said she planned to file a sexual harassment claim against her former supervisor — the fourth Boston worker to file such charges against ReadyJet Inc. in the past year, according to the union trying to organize airport employees.

Rosa Morban, 22, said her supervisor showed her his genitals several times during the roughly eight months she worked for ReadyJet last year. He also touched her inappropriately, she said, asked her out on dates, and called her fat and ugly.

“My supervisor exposed his private parts to me,” she said, speaking in Spanish through a translator, at a press conference across from the State House. “And when I used to tell him I was going to report him, he used to tell me that it was my word against [his]. And I was just a simple cleaner and him a supervisor so he was going to be believed more than I.”

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When she told another manager, she said, he laughed it off, telling her that she was going to end up marrying her supervisor.

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Morban, who is from the Dominican Republican, said she was fired in January in retaliation for reporting her supervisor’s behavior and has been out of work since. She plans to file charges with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The union that has long been working to unionize the subcontracted workers at Logan, 32BJ Service Employees International Union District 615, which organized a two-day strike in February, is providing her legal counsel.

Morban said she knows of at least two other people who were harassed by the same supervisor. “A lot of women stay quiet because they do not want to lose their jobs,” she said.

Low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, advocates say, because the imbalance of power between perpetrators and their victims is so stark. Lower-income workers also tend not to report abuse because they can’t afford to lose their jobs and often don’t speak English.

Undocumented immigrants fear that if they confront their harassers, they will be reported to immigration authorities. Under the Trump administration, advocates say, these workers have become even more fearful of speaking up.

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US Representative Katherine Clark, who brought another former Logan ReadyJet worker who said she’d been sexually harassed to the State of the Union address in January, spoke in support of Morban, denouncing “employers who continue to exploit and harass and isolate their employees.”

“We are here today to say that the #MeToo movement extends to everyone, and whatever race, income level, or job you have, you have a right to have a safe working environment,” she said.

The worker who attended the State of the Union has settled her case with the company.

ReadyJet, whose biggest client at Logan is JetBlue Airways, the airport’s largest carrier, is one of a number of Logan subcontractors that have been charged with unfair labor practices, safety violations, and wage theft over the years.

“We are here today because when women have the support to share their stories, it empowers others and can make our workplace and society more safe for all of us,” said Roxana Rivera, vice president of 32BJ SEIU District 615, which represents 18,000 workers in New England. “We are calling on JetBlue to hold its Logan subcontractors accountable to the airline’s own standards and to the law.”

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ReadyJet did not respond to a request for comment. The Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan, said, “We don’t like learning of any allegations and we look forward to the MCAD adjudication.”

At JetBlue, a spokesman said, “We have long been on the record urging our business partners to be responsive to the needs of their employees.”

Katie Johnston can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.

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