SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego woman is suing American Airlines, saying that a former employee stalked her by sending more than 100 unwanted texts, some of them sexually suggestive.
In her Jan. 6 lawsuit, Ashley Barno contends that she was waiting to board a San Diego-to-Chicago flight last April when she received a text from a number she didn’t recognize. The message-sender claimed to work for American.
The man, identified in her Superior Court lawsuit only as “John Doe” because Barno said she doesn’t know his name, also was on Barno’s flight and continued to send her texts. In one, he identified himself as “Ahmad.”
“Just knowing that he knew what I looked like, and that we were in an enclosed plane and that there’s no way out, like really, really scared me,” Barno told KNSD-TV.
When she texted back “Leave me alone,” he replied: “OK it’s up to you.”
The man wrote: “Friendship with me will be very beneficial for you!! … I can always give you good seats, access to the lounges and free flights too!!,” according to text screenshots provided by Barno’s lawyer to ABC News.
Barno said she asked a flight attendant for help and “Ahmad” was escorted off the flight in Chicago.
“I got off the plane, too,” Barno told KNSD-TV. “I called my sister, and I was crying profusely because I just felt… I mean, the best way to describe it was, I felt naked in a public place.”
Barno said she learned that he had learned her telephone number from the luggage tag on her carry-on.
The lawsuit contends that despite her protests, “Ahmad” kept contacting her “for a long period of time, and also sent her sexually-suggestive images.”
The airline “knew of its employee’s propensity to initiate unwanted sexual communication” with both employees and customers but didn’t fire him, the lawsuit says.
The airline “did not do a sufficient job in hiring and supervising employees to keep its customers safe from sexual harassment and stalking,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in San Diego County Superior Court.
In a statement, American Airlines said it investigated and took action.
“The employee involved in the complaint is no longer employed at American Airlines. The employee was not on duty for American at the time” of the alleged incidents, the statement said.