For 21 years, Renee Steinaker has labored for Southwest Airlines, an airline beloved by faithful buyers for its lighthearted atmosphere and humorous safety briefings.
But the Scottsdale-primarily based flight attendant suggests what she observed on a captain’s cockpit iPad on Feb. 27, 2017, was no joke, even as the airline and its pilots union characterize what she saw as a “lousy attempt at humor.”
“With my each getting — just about every bit of myself — I knew this was wrong. And I could not permit something like this go. I realized it was the suitable matter to do to report it. I considered I was properly able to report this and that it would be managed,” Steinaker explained to The Arizona Republic, part of the United states Now Community, in an interview at her home Friday early morning.
Rather, Steinaker has sued the employer she says she enjoys, Southwest Airways, and the pilots on the flight from Pittsburgh to Phoenix.
“It truly is regrettable it obtained to the point of this for the reason that it should have been dealt with unique in the beginning. It must have never gotten to this point,” Steinaker claimed.
Southwest formerly instructed the Arizona Republic that there was no camera in the rest room and that the airline would vigorously protect the lawsuit.
What Steinaker claims she saw
About 2½ hours into the flight, Steinaker alleges in her lawsuit, she was referred to as to the cockpit to allow Capt. Terry Graham to use the restroom. Southwest Airways coverage demands two crew users in the cockpit at all occasions.
That’s when she seen a thing bizarre on the firm-issued iPad following to the captain’s seat.
“I observed on his iPad there was a image of him that I realized was moving, and I could listen to it in conjunction with what I was observing on the iPad of him in the forward bathroom,” Steinaker explained.
Steinaker mentioned she felt shock and disbelief. She took a picture of the iPad with her cellphone.
“I could not feel that this was taking place. I felt disgusted and horrified about what I saw,” she stated.
Steinaker stated she then questioned 1st Officer Ryan Russell, who she described as wanting panicked and stumbling in excess of his text. She reported he instructed her this was a security evaluate on all 737-800s and that there had been cameras in all three bogs on board.
She did not believe that him.
“I just can’t believe that that would be a protection measure wherever men and women could be violated by currently being movie recorded in a bathroom,” she claimed.
Steinaker and crew report the incident
Steinaker returned to the again of the aircraft, told the relaxation of the flight crew what happened and showed them the image. For the remaining hrs of the flight, she mentioned, they were being frightened about what Steinaker noticed. When the aircraft landed, Steinaker explained, the pilots right away remaining the airplane, in violation of company plan.
The lawsuit alleges that the two men left in such haste that Graham left at the rear of a loaded gun in violation of FAA plan.
Steinaker explained she and the rest of the crew documented the incident to the foundation supervisor and the Western regional supervisor. They asked her to recognize the pilots in the employee lounge at Phoenix Sky Harbor Worldwide Airport, which she did.
“We pressured the urgency of the point that this aircraft was about to acquire off and they had an hour ground time until leaving for Nashville,” Steinaker claimed.
She mentioned she imagined professionals would speak to regulation enforcement and halt the pilots from traveling.
“With the image I had introduced ahead and with my verbal assertion for these allegations, I considered it had plenty of benefit that this aircraft should not have been in a position to just take off,” Steinaker claimed.
The lawsuit alleges that the two adult males still fly for Southwest Airlines. It also alleges that Steinaker and her partner, David, a 26-12 months veteran flight attendant with the airline, have confronted harassment and retaliation for Renee reporting the incident.
“It is certainly taken a toll on us. Emotionally. Physically, ” she explained.
“It afflicted all of my quick family.”
Southwest, pilots union reply
Southwest Airways said it investigated and there ended up no cameras on the aircraft.
In a prior statement, Southwest Airways told The Arizona Republic:
“Southwest will vigorously protect the lawsuit. When the incident happened two yrs in the past, we investigated the allegations and tackled the situation with the crew involved. We can verify from our investigation that there was under no circumstances a camera in the lavatory the incident was an inappropriate attempt at humor which the enterprise did not condone.”
An attorney for the two pilots declined to comment and referred The Arizona Republic to a statement by the Southwest Airways Pilots Association this 7 days. It said:
“Southwest Airlines has hardly ever placed cameras and in no way videoed any individual in any lavatory, and the pilots on Flight 1088 did not video clip anybody. The incident, which happened over two several years ago, was a inadequate try at humor where the pilot took a selfie movie from the chest up, completely clothed, in the bathroom of a totally various plane months ahead of Flight 1088 and then replayed the actual same selfie video clip on his iPad when Ms. Steinaker arrived into the cockpit.
“All crew members, like the flight attendants, were being debriefed on and informed of this sort of by Southwest Airlines immediately after a comprehensive investigation was executed by Southwest Airlines that unveiled no corroboration of the flight attendant’s allegations.”
Steinaker: ‘This was not a joke’
Steinaker explained she was hardly ever educated about the results of the investigation and was informed by management not to chat about the incident.
Her lawyer is concerned about regardless of whether evidence was preserved. Steinaker and the relaxation of the crew asked for the cockpit voice recorder and iPad be seized.
“I am not mindful of the details of regardless of whether or not they did these things. I am anxious for the reason that that was important evidence that was designed evident to the administration and regardless of whether or not they fulfilled their obligation to maintain that evidence is completely unfamiliar to me at this stage,” claimed Ronald L.M. Goldman, a Los Angeles-based aviation legal professional symbolizing the Steinakers.
Steinaker explained the incident should not be dismissed as merely a component of Southwest’s pleasant, enjoyment-loving tradition.
“This was not a joke,” she reported. “There’s very little about this by any means that was humorous conduct. It is sexual harassment, hostile work natural environment and it is really basic safety issues.”
Whilst most people today consider of flight attendants as the employees handing out pretzels and drinks, Steinaker hopes men and women keep in mind that flight attendants are on the plane for the safety of the travellers.
“The target usually requires to be the safety of travellers and crew members on board. Fingers down, that is the predominant explanation we are there, so something that deviates from security is a pretty dangerous thing on board,” she mentioned.
You can hook up with Arizona Republic Customer Travel Reporter Melissa Yeager at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also comply with her on Twitter and Instagram.