Southwest Airlines has vowed to “vigorously defend” against a flight attendant lawsuit which alleges two pilots placed a hidden video camera in an aircraft lavatory on a flight to Phoenix.
After initially failing to directly address the matter, Southwest now categorically rejects the charges of flight attendant Renee Steinaker.
I wrote about the lawsuit yesterday, laying out the fact pattern and allegations. What caused Southwest to go on the record? Steinaker has now gone on a media tour, giving her version of what happened.
For example, Steinaker told ABC News:
When I walked into the cockpit, I noticed that his iPad was located on the window and on it appeared a picture of the pilot. And I looked further and I realized that it was our pilot, the captain in the lavatory, and then I looked even further. I stared at it and realized that the picture was moving. So, it appeared to be a livestreaming video of the captain in the lavatory.
Her lawsuit further claims that when she reported the incident, she was met with internal resistance:
Renee Steinaker was directed by a supervisor that she was not to talk to anybody about what happened. She was warned that “if this got out, if this went public, no one, I mean no one, would ever fly our airline again.”
Southwest Denies Video Exists
But Southwest denies a video exists:
The false video reference made to the in-flight crew was an inappropriate attempt at humor. When the incident happened two years ago, we swiftly investigated the claim, confirmed that no cameras were placed in any of the lavatories onboard and addressed the reported event with the crew involved. Southwest Airlines does not and has never used video surveillance in our lavatories and the Company does not condone the comment made no matter the intent. Again, the event was investigated thoroughly and no corroboration of the allegation was found. We will vigorously defend the lawsuit.
Show Me The Picture…
Steinaker’s lawsuit claims that when she saw the iPad showing what appeared to be live images of the lavatory, she pullede out her phone and took pictures. I would think those pictures might be helpful in answering the camera question.
But already Steinaker’s lawyer is pivoting away from actual voyeurism and focusing on sexual harassment.
It is … clear from its statement that Southwest palmed this egregious event off as a joke, and it still fails to recognize the gravity of the harassment and threat to the safety of the flight. A purpose of this suit is to make sure that the culture that treats sexual harassment and hostile working environments at 30,000 feet as a joke will, it is hoped, end with the successful conclusion of this lawsuit.
I suspect this is how she hopes to settle with Southwest.
While it is clear why Southwest did not want this story publicized, I simply don’t see any incentive or motive to protect the pilots…and still employ them…if this happened. But I will be watching this case closely, particularly the evidence the plaintiff will submit.
image: Southwest Airlines