Two flight attendants have filed a lawsuit against former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, alleging that they were physically assaulted by him during a flight in 2013. The lawsuit was filed in a US court and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The two flight attendants, referred to as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 in the court documents, were reportedly working on a private jet that Hariri had chartered for a flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Paris, France. According to the lawsuit, Hariri sexually and physically assaulted both of the flight attendants during the flight, which lasted several hours.
The lawsuit alleges that Hariri “repeatedly groped” Jane Doe 1 and “forcibly kissed” her, despite her protests. He also allegedly “grabbed and forcefully kissed” Jane Doe 2, and later entered the bathroom where she was working and “forcibly fondled and kissed” her.
The flight attendants further claim that they reported the alleged assault to the pilot and the co-pilot, but no action was taken. They also allege that Hariri’s security personnel prevented them from leaving the plane after it landed in Paris until they signed a document stating that the flight had been “uneventful”.
The lawsuit states that the flight attendants suffered “severe emotional distress” as a result of the alleged assault, and that they have “been forced to live with the trauma and shame” of what happened to them. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages for their emotional distress, as well as their lost wages and benefits.
Hariri, who served as Prime Minister of Lebanon twice between 2009 and 2020, has denied the allegations. In a statement released by his office, he called the lawsuit “baseless” and “politically motivated”.
“This is a blatant attempt to smear my reputation and undermine my political standing,” Hariri said. “I categorically deny these allegations, and I will vigorously defend myself against them in court.”
The lawsuit comes amid a wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations against powerful men in the entertainment, media, and political industries, as part of the #MeToo movement. The movement has encouraged more women to come forward with their stories of harassment and assault, and has led to the downfall of several high-profile individuals.
The airline industry has not been immune to these allegations. In 2018, a survey conducted by the International Transport Workers’ Federation found that 68% of flight attendants had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their careers. The survey also found that only 7% of these incidents had been reported to the airline, due to fear of reprisal or a lack of confidence in the reporting system.
In response to the survey, several airlines, including Air France and British Airways, launched campaigns to encourage their employees to report incidents of harassment and assault. The International Civil Aviation Organization also issued new guidelines for airlines to address sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
The lawsuit against Hariri highlights the need for continued efforts to combat sexual harassment and assault in the airline industry, and to ensure that all employees are protected from abuse and harassment. It also emphasizes the importance of holding powerful individuals accountable for their actions, regardless of their political or social standing.
The allegations made against Saad Hariri in the lawsuit filed by the flight attendants underscore the need for increased awareness and prevention of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. This is particularly important in industries where power dynamics are at play, such as in politics or the airline industry.
Sexual harassment and assault can have long-lasting and devastating effects on victims, including emotional trauma, loss of income, and career setbacks. It is crucial for employers to have clear policies and procedures in place to address and prevent such behavior, and for victims to feel safe and supported when coming forward to report incidents.
The #MeToo movement has brought much-needed attention to these issues and has helped to create a safer and more respectful workplace culture. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all employees are protected and that those who engage in such behavior are held accountable.
In addition to implementing policies and procedures to prevent and address sexual harassment and assault, it is important for organizations to provide training and education on these issues to all employees. This can help to create a more informed and supportive workplace culture, where everyone understands the impact of sexual harassment and assault and is empowered to prevent and address it.
The airline industry in particular has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of its employees, as well as its passengers. This includes protecting employees from harassment and assault, as well as providing support and resources for those who have been affected.
While progress has been made in recent years to address sexual harassment and assault in the airline industry, there is still much work to be done. The lawsuit filed against Saad Hariri serves as a reminder of the ongoing need to prioritize the safety and well-being of employees and to hold those who engage in harassment and assault accountable for their actions.