United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge
McDowell alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment
during her employment as a flight attendant for Southwest
Airlines. She further alleges that Southwest retaliated
against her for filing a charge of discrimination with the
EEOC by making her work more weekends and denying her medical
leave. Southwest has moved for summary judgment on the
claims. For the reasons explained below, the Court
GRANTS Southwest's motion. Dkt. .
Facts and Background
Court views and recites the evidence in the light most
favorable to Ms. McDowell and draws all reasonable inferences
in her favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584
(7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
McDowell started working for Southwest as a flight attendant
around May 2014. Dkt. 43-1 ¶ 2. She alleges she was
subjected to nine incidents of sexual harassment between 2015
Incident # 1
in 2015, dkt. 35-1 at 68:14-21 (McDowell Dep.), a male flight
attendant described his sexual experiences to Ms. McDowell
and told her that he could make her have an orgasm. Dkt. 35-1
at 77 (McDowell Dep. Ex. 1). He then called her hotel room
repeatedly that night. Id.
Incident # 2
August 16, 2016, Ms. McDowell was sitting in a jump seat
during a turbulent flight when a male employee told her that
if there was turbulence, she could “catch him”
with her body. Dkt. 35-1 at 124 (McDowell Dep. Ex. 7). He
then acted like there was turbulence, laid his torso across
her lap, and asked if he could hold on to her. Id.
Incident # 3
August 16, 2016, a pilot, upon hearing that Ms.
McDowell's first name was Mercedez, said “Mercedez.
I own one and it rides well.” Dkt. 35-1 at 77, 125
(McDowell Dep. Ex. 8).
Incident # 4
days later, an elderly female passenger whispered something
in Ms. McDowell's ear. Id. at 77, 125. Since it
looked like the elderly woman kissed Ms. McDowell, a pilot
asked “[a]re you giving out kisses?” Id.
She said no and turned around. Id. The pilot then
“placed his hand on her buttock, ” dkt. 43 at 4,
and said “sorry, that was the best thing to happen all
day, ” dkt. 35-1 at 125.
McDowell's EEOC Charge
September 1, 2016, Ms. McDowell filed a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
alleging that she was “subjected to unwelcome sexual
advances, sexual harassment, and a hostile work environment
based on sex” when working at Southwest. Id.
at 77. She reported the four incidents above and claimed that
they were causing her anxiety which required mental-health
counseling. Id. at 77-78.
filing her EEOC charge, Ms. McDowell recalled or experienced
other incidents of alleged harassment that she did not report
to the EEOC. These incidents include:
• Incident # 5: Sometime during her
first six months on the job, a male pilot placed his hand on
Ms. McDowell's thigh when speaking to her. Id.
at 118 (McDowell Dep. Ex. 5).
• Incident # 6: In December 2015, a
male passenger reached toward the midsection of her apron and
grabbed peanuts. Id.
• Incident # 7: In February 2017, a
flight attendant hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, made
sexual innuendos, massaged her shoulders, touched her leg,
and implied that she was “hot.” Id. at
118, 127-28 (McDowell Dep. Ex. 11).
• Incident # 8: In September 2017, a
pilot told Ms. McDowell that he was not the official captain
for the flight, but he could “be your captain if you
wanted me to, ” adding that he was “usually
PG.” Id. at 119-20.
• Incident # 9: In May 2018, a pilot
refused to give her the flight briefing, choosing instead to
explain it to the other flight attendants only. Id.
McDowell further alleges that Southwest encouraged sexual
harassment because its flight-attendants' lounge has
posters that showcased female flight attendants' legs and
breasts while male flight attendants were shown in pants and
button-up shirts. Dkt. 43-1 ¶ 23.