An NFL player has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines, claiming that he was sexually harassed and assaulted by a female passenger onboard a United Airlines flight. The player has accused two flight attendants of failing to act on his complaints.
According to the lawsuit, filed on Monday, May 18, in a Los Angeles Superior Court, the sexual assault took place in February on a red-eye flight from LA to Newark, New Jersey. The NFL player remains unidentified but is an African American male from New Jersey, as pointed out by The Guardian.
He filed the suit with another unidentified man, alleging that a woman passenger made "unwanted advances" towards him and groped him on the flight.
Harassment by 'Intoxicated' Passenger
The plaintiffs, identified as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, claim they were seated in the middle and aisle seats of an economy plus exit row and made four complaints about a white female passenger in the window seat who was "intoxicated" and visibly "under the influence of drugs."
According to the complaint, the ordeal began immediately after the woman took her seat and began harassing the player over the face mask he was wearing amid the emerging coronavirus pandemic at the time.
Woman Allegedly Massaged his Thighs, Grabbed His Penis
The suit claims repeated complaints were made to flight attendants regarding the woman's behavior but they were allegedly ignored. The harassment then escalated into sexual assault when the woman started "grabbing and groping his quads and then stroking her hand across his lap towards the inside of his leg near his genitals," the suit reads.
"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 complaint states.
At one point, the woman allegedly ripped off his mask and grabbed his penis and when the player left his seat to complain to a flight attendant, she moved to the middle seat and grabbed John Doe 2's leg and "groin area." The female passenger was then eventually moved to another seat by the flight attendant.
Lawsuit Against United Airlines
The men are now suing United Airlines for refusing to release the identities of the female passenger and the onboard flight attendants, who could have acted as witnesses. The suit claims the airline offered both plaintiffs vouchers of $150.
They're now seeking unspecified statutory and punitive damages from the airline, claiming negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
"The safety and well-being of our customers is always our top priority," a spokesperson for United said in a statement on Wednesday. "In this instance, the customer involved was moved to a different seat. Because litigation is now pending, we're unable to provide further comment."